why border issues will play a pivotal role in this years midterms

Control of the U.S. Senate is up for grabs in less than two weeks, and the border is expected to be one of the most important issues in this year’s midterms. 

Democrats and Republicans are sharply divided on border issues. Some people aren’t concerned about the border, while for others, their main concern is safety.

“The border means security. So once we close the border, we will become more secure,” said Phoenix resident Karlene Keogh Parks.

Migrants seeking asylum board a U.S. Customs and Border Protection vehicle to be transferred to temporary shelter in Yuma, Arizona, on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. (Nicolo Filippo Rosso/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said there were more migrant encounters at the border this year than any other year on record; over 2.3 million people. That’s why some people in Phoenix say immigration is top-of-mind when they vote.

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“The concern I have with the open border is we don’t know who is coming in,” said Phoenix resident Chris Rauch.

It’s not only about who is coming in, but also what is coming in. Since 2019, the U.S. government says Mexico is the “dominant source” of fentanyl entering the states. Arizona border patrol agents confiscated more than half a million fentanyl pills at the Nogales Port of Entry alone over the weekend.

Fentanyl seized in Nogales, Arizona.

Fentanyl seized in Nogales, Arizona. (CBP)

“Washington has failed Arizona and other border states on this for decades,” said Democratic Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly at an October 18 campaign event. Kelly is running to keep his seat in Arizona.

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Kelly and his opponent, Republican Blake Masters, agree the border needs to be more secure, and more border patrol agents need to be hired. 

“We need border security, we really do, and it’s going to be my number one priority in the U.S. Senate,” Masters said at an October 14 campaign event.

A Fox News poll shows border security is slightly more important to Arizonans than other hot issues like inflation and abortion.

The issues most important to Arizona voters regarding the senate race are border security (18%), the preservation of American democracy (18%), inflation (17%) and abortion (17%).

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Democratic Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly (left) and Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters (right).

Democratic Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly (left) and Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters (right). (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

That poll also found that Arizonans who prioritize issues like border security and the economy tend to favor Masters. Those who prioritize issues like abortion and preservation of American democracy tend to favor Kelly.

Dave Wells, a political science professor at Arizona State University, says a major issue Kelly and Masters disagree on is the legal status of “Dreamers,” who are people brought to the U.S. Illegally as children, but grew up and went to school here.

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“Democrats are looking for some steps for legal status for some of the folks who are here without legal authorization. And the Republicans have been really resistant to that part of it,” Wells said.

Kelly supports giving citizenship to Dreamers. He said he views them no differently than his own children. Masters opposes citizenship for Dreamers.

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