Washington – President Donald Trump plans to announce a sweeping border crackdown this week, days before the mid-term elections, in a “red meat” speech aimed at firing up the GOP base.
While that speech may help GOP candidates in other states, a tough approach to immigration is likely to provide less of a boost to Republican candidates in Connecticut, although some embrace the plan.
Polls show immigration is a top concern for all voters this year, along with the economy and health care.
In a recent national Reuters/Ipsos survey, Republicans aged 55 and older who were asked about illegal immigration registered 7.5 on an anger scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being extremely angry. The poll said only the threat of a Trump impeachment got these voters that angry.
Always a “hot button” issue, immigration is about to become even hotter in this midterm election as Trump, who has stumped across the nation with GOP candidates denouncing a “caravan” of migrants heading from Central America to the U.S. border, returns to the issue this week.
The president is expected to invoke emergency powers to stop that group of migrants, mostly from Honduras, from entering the United States, and to depict them as a grave national security threat.
To stop the migrants from crossing the Rio Grande, Trump is expected to say he has the authority to bar certain categories of asylum seekers from entering the United States, citing a court ruling that allowed him to impose a travel ban on certain Middle Easterners.
Trump is also expected to announce a sharp increase in the number of U.S. troops he will send to the border. The Trump administration originally said it would send about 1,000 troops to bolster a National Guard presence there.
To Trump, the group of Hondurans walking through Mexico to the U.S. border are not just individuals and families seeking to flee a country overrun with drug gangs and one of the highest murder rates of the world, but dangerous people who seek to ‘invade’ the United States.
“Many Gang Members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan heading to our Southern Border. Please go back, you will not be admitted into the United States unless you go through the legal process. This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!,” the president tweeted on Monday.
In an earlier tweet and without proof, Trump said “unknown Middle Easterners” had infiltrated the caravan.
Most Democrats oppose the proposed crackdown.
Connecticut’s Republican candidates had varying degrees of responses when asked about the president’s immigration crackdown.
The campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski deflected questions Monday about the issue.
Campaign spokesman Kendall Marr said Stefanowski preferred to focus on “Connecticut issues,” like taxes and the state’s economy.
GOP senate candidate Matthew Corey, however, took a hard stance on immigration during last week’s debate with Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn, who said immigrants fleeing violence should be allowed to apply for asylum.
After Murphy criticized the president for using the issue of immigration as a “political wedge” and “trying to make a scare of people whose skin color is different from ours,” Corey said he is concerned the caravan contains Middle Eastern terrorists.
“Of course people are fleeing, but who is hijacking that caravan?” Corey asked, adding that Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales has indicated Middle Eastern terrorists may be involved with the caravan.
Morales said Guatemala had arrested “almost 100 people highly linked to terrorist groups, specifically ISIS.” Morales also said the suspected terrorists “have also been deported to their countries of origin,” but he did not say they were part of the caravan.
Like Trump, Corey also indicated there might be MS-13 gang members in the caravan.
Angel Cadena, a Republican trying to unseat Rep. Rosa DeLauro, R-3rd District, said he fully supported Trump’s efforts to “remove the incentives for illegal immigrants to come to America, left in place by a 32-year-old amnesty bill that failed to properly secure our border.”
The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act gave unauthorized aliens the opportunity to apply and gain legal status if they met mandated requirements. The act has been derided by immigration hardliners as a massive “amnesty” law that encouraged illegal immigration.
Cadena called it a “a half-assed action pushed by the current Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer when he was a congressman.”
“President Trump is just cleaning up his mess,” Cadena said.
Manny Santos, the former Republican mayor of Meriden who is challenging Democrat Jahana Hayes for the 5th congressional district seat, also supports Trump’s plan.
“That many people trying to get through our national border, all at once, will pose a national security risk,” he said. “We have no way of knowing who is mixed in that crowd: violent gang members, terrorists, sex traffickers, drug traffickers, gun traffickers, illnesses. We must protect our borders and the safety and security our our people. ”
Santos called the caravan an “incursion” that “is a serious threat to our nation and the rule of law.”
Harry Arora who is running against Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, did not respond to requests for comments on the president’s plan.
J.R. Romano, the head of the Connecticut Republican Party, said the issue is complex and has no easy answers.
“We have to treat these people with humanity and respect, but we have to give this nation’s interests a priority,” Romano said. “It’s a problem that’s been years in the making because Congress has not dealt with it.”