Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly (Ariz.), who won reelection this month, blasted his own political party on Monday for being out of touch on important issues, especially the border crisis.
What did Kelly say?
Speaking with the Washington Post's Karen Tumulty, the former astronaut held nothing back when asked if Democrats have their finger on the pulse of border crisis-related voter frustration.
"Absolutely not. Not even close," Kelly declared.
I continue to talk to my Republican colleagues about how we have to do more. We have to do more in border security. We have to do more in comprehensive immigration reform, especially “dreamers,” but also these visa programs. If you’re a farmer, especially in Southern Arizona, despite having a ready supply of eager workers, you don’t have the visas available and it’s a problem for them.
But when I talk to my Republican colleagues who are not anywhere near a border — let’s say they’re in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee — they have the same problem. So there are solutions and we’re continuing to work on this. Our country would really benefit from stronger border security and comprehensive immigration reform.
While Kelly believes that many Democratic lawmakers "don’t really understand" the border crisis, he also knocked Republicans who "just want to talk about it and use it for political purposes."
The border crisis exploded when Joe Biden became president and has not slowed down. Immigration officials encountered more than 2.76 million migrants in fiscal year 2022. But the actual number of migrants who entered the U.S. is likely higher, because many were simply never apprehended by authorities.
Another 230,000 migrants entered the U.S. in October.
Per the calculations of Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) — the most outspoken Democrat on the border crisis — more than 5 million migrants have entered the U.S. under Biden's leadership.
Interestingly, Kelly also told Tumulty that he is hoping the Republican Party grows stronger in the near future.
"This will probably surprise you to hear this from somebody who’s a United States senator who’s a Democrat, but we need a strong Republican Party in Arizona," Kelly said.
"I think the two-party system that we have, we’ve got a set of checks and balances against each other, and I think that’s important to have that. And I would like to see that in Arizona again," he added.