A man looks through the fence that divides Mexico and the US, in Tijuana, Baja California State, Mexico, on September 17, 2014.
Photo by Ronaldo Schemidt/Getty

5 cringe-worthy GOP candidate remarks on immigration

If conservative rhetoric on immigration is to be believed, migrant kids at the border may be putting the U.S. at risk of being overrun by gang-violence and pushing the country to the cusp of war.

The political firestorm this summer over young immigrant children caught up at the southwestern border, and the intense backlash that ensued throughout the country, has only exacerbated the heated election-season remarks on immigration.

With the final weeks before the midterm elections underway, Republican candidates who are vying for a shot in Congress, or to lead state houses, are rallying their base on issue. Here’s a snapshot of what candidates and incumbents are saying on the campaign trail:

1. War with Mexico is always an option.

Why stop at securing the border when you can settle disputes before they reach the U.S.? During a speech before tea party groups in June, Republican congressional candidate Mark Walker from North Carolina said the U.S. needed to militarize the National Guard along the southwestern border.

“I will tell you if you have foreigners who are sneaking in with drug cartels, to me, that is a national threat,” Walker said. “And if we got to go laser or blitz somebody with a couple of fighter jets for a little while to make our point, I don’t have a problem with that either. So yeah, whatever we need to do.”

When asked if he had “any qualms about starting up a little war with Mexico,” Walker reminded the audience that the U.S. had done it before.

“If we need to do it again,” he said, “I don’t have a qualm about it.”

2. Border kids come from a culture of murder, rape.

The thousands of young migrant children caught fleeing Central America on their own sent waves of anti-immigrant backlash across the country as lawmakers raised concerns over their impact on communities. In Florida, Republican Rep. Rich Nugent warned during a local radio interview that the children were coming from “gang-infested” countries.

“These kids have been brought up in a culture of thievery,” Nugent said in July. “A culture of murder, of rape. And now we are going to infuse them into the American culture. It’s just ludicrous.”

3. “If 20 million illegals vote … ”

Joe Miller, a Republican challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, takes the imagery of fearsome gang violence a step further. In a mailer distributed throughout Alaska, Miller depicts immigrants as tattooed and menacing-looking young people next to a quote claiming Begich “wants them to vote.”

“If 20 million illegals vote, you can kiss the Second Amendment goodbye,” the mailer reads, quoting Miller. “Joe Miller is 100% pro gun, 100% against amnesty,” the mailer continues.

Miller however overstates the U.S.’s undocumented population by a long shot. According to the latest estimates from Pew Research Center, 11.3 million undocumented immigrants currently live in the U.S. — not 20 million.

4. The U.S. should track immigrants like Fed-Ex packages.

Building on Republican rallying cries that the southwestern border is too “porous” to combat illegal border-crossings, Republican Virginia Delegate Barbara Comstock, who is running for her state’s 10th congressional district, suggested the U.S. should begin tracking immigrants like Fed-Ex packages.

“Immigration needs to be done by legislation, not executive order,” Comstock said at a debate last month. “First and foremost, we need to stop playing politics with this — secure the borders and do it. We know how to do it.”

“Fed-Ex can track packages coming in here all of the time, we can track people who are coming into the country and we can do that right,” she added. 

5. Be more like Jan Brewer.

In one of the few states where Latino voters could have an impact on election outcomes, Colorado gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez tipped his hat off to one of the most controversial governors in the country: Jan Brewer.

Gov. Brewer, who led the way for Arizona’s harsh anti-immigrant laws, is a model for how local officials can push back on federal efforts to reform immigration law, Beauprez said in July.

“If they won’t do it, governors ought to be allowed to do it, as Jan Brewer tried to do in Arizona,” he said.

Immigration Policy and Immigration Reform

5 cringe-worthy GOP candidate remarks on immigration