Immigration is a big topic leading into elections. Here’s what you need to know about the Trump administration’s policy and the family separations.
Carly Henry and William Flannigan, Arizona Republic
The name is familiar to Arizonans, but the face and the words were not.
Fox News tried Monday morning to put a spotlight on former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick’s unpopular defense of Immigration and Customs Enforcement at a Tucson forum for Democrats last week.
Instead, the right-leaning cable channel got Barbara L’Italien, a Democratic Massachusetts state senator who is running for Congress in that state and is no fan of the agency that carried out the Trump administration’s family-separation policy.
It led to an embarrassing — and quickly short-circuited — broadcast segment where L’Italien was cut off excoriating the agency once the hosts realized they didn’t have Kirkpatrick.
“That didn’t go as planned,” said “Fox & Friends First” host Rob Schmitt as the network cut away.
L’Italien’s views aren’t the only ones left unsaid.
Kirkpatrick, a three-term member of Congress trying to win another term in a different district where many Democrats are more liberal, later tried to distance herself from the ICE and Fox News controversy.
In a written statement, Kirkpatrick accused Fox News “and other outlets” of putting out false reports on her position “without a single word from me.”
“ICE needs top-to-bottom reform. Trump’s policies — especially around family separation — are illegal and should end immediately,” Kirkpatrick said. “I am disgusted by the Trump policies aimed at immigrant families. Children separated from their parents. Children put in cages. Parents deported for minor civil infractions such as traffic tickets. These policies are immoral and they are counterproductive.
“The work done by ICE and the Border Patrol must be done in a manner that is humane, ethical, accountable and transparent. Today, in many cases, it is not.”
The real Kirkpatrick met by boos
On Thursday, Kirkpatrick was lustily booed by many of the 300 who attended a Democratic forum in Tucson over her views of the immigration-enforcement agency.
Early in that event, all six Democratic candidates in attendance were asked whether they supported a Republican-led House resolution that said Congress backs ICE.
Kirkpatrick, who many view as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, was the only candidate to raise her hand, drawing boos.
Next, the candidates were asked if they supported an effort to abolish ICE, a proposal that caught fire with some in Democratic circles, though many backed away when Republicans threatened to give them a chance to actually vote on it.
In Tucson, Kirkpatrick and Matt Heinz, the district’s 2016 Democratic nominee who is among those challenging Kirkpatrick, were the only ones to reject the idea.
That also drew boos.
At the end of the event Thursday, a woman berated Kirkpatrick for supporting ICE as she completed her closing statement and again as Kirkpatrick made her way out of the auditorium.
“You should be ashamed of yourself when you support ICE when you’re trying to deport my mother, when they’re trying to deport my family!” the woman screamed as Kirkpatrick walked away.
The emotional moment, and Fox’s efforts to amplify Kirkpatrick’s views afterward, are a reminder of a break within Democrats over how to handle Trump’s family separations and the efforts of those tasked with carrying out the president’s orders.
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, the Democratic front-runner for Arizona’s U.S. Senate seat, voted in favor of the pro-ICE resolution.
Facing challenges in a new district
In her three terms in the House, Kirkpatrick represented the more-moderate-leaning district that spans northeastern Arizona. She took heat there for voting in 2010 for the Affordable Care Act, but also supported other measures, such as a land swap to facilitate the expansion of a copper mine.
In the state’s 2016 presidential preference election, the Tucson-based district she is now running in voted slightly more for Bernie Sanders than the northeastern Arizona district Kirkpatrick once represented. Both districts picked Hillary Clinton . The district also voted for Clinton by 5 percentage points in November 2016, even as they elected Republican Martha McSally to a second term in the House by 14 percentage points.
Last week Republicans welcomed the Democratic schism over ICE as a way to change the conversation from the deeply unpopular family separations to one of supporting law enforcement.
Gov. Doug Ducey, for example, publicly noted his request to Arizona’s congressional delegation to support the GOP resolution backing ICE. That resolution did not include any provisions addressing the family separations.
The resolution passed in the House with nearly unanimous support from Republicans and with only a few Democrats voting for it. Sinema and Rep. Tom O’Halleran, the Democrat who now holds Kirkpatrick’s former seat, were among them. Most Democrats voted “present” to skirt the issue, which later died in the Senate.
For her part, L’Italien was eager to finish what she started Monday.
In tweets and a nearly 4-minute video message afterward, she condemned what she views as President Donald Trump’s “vile, racist policies at the border.”
“What you’re doing at the border is wrong,” she said. “I refuse to believe that our only options are open borders or traumatizing children, and shame on you for pretending that they are. Shame on you for putting this vile, racist policy in place.”
“Our immigration system should be just, fair, compassionate and reflect our values as a nation of immigrants. What we have now, what you are doing, is none of those things. You are just being cruel to people who believed us when we said that this country was a land of freedom and opportunity.”
Schmitt later noted a statement from a producer for Fox & Friends First.
The statement said the network’s listed press contact for Kirkpatrick, Joe Katz, booked a segment that featured L’Italien, who “did not identify herself as anything other than Kirkpatrick until she was live on air, at which point we ended the interview.”
Read or Share this story: https://azc.cc/2uKPOS9