The Washington Examiner: Illegals, MS-13, border wall, become top issues in House races, Dems on defense

With some polls showing that illegal immigration and the violence of Hispanic gangs like MS-13 topping issues voters care about, many Republican House candidates are calling for action at the border and one Tennessee candidate even went to the border to film his support for President Trump’s wall.

“If we don’t secure our border, we can’t secure our nation’s future. But simply talking about securing our border is not enough as it has delivered little positive action in Congress. That is why I visited the border last week,” said Tennessee House candidate Bob Corlew.

“To secure the border and stop illegal criminal aliens from entering our country, we must finish the wall, end chain migration and be vigilant in the pursuit of dangerous criminals like the notorious MS-13 gang who have engulfed families and neighborhoods,” he added in his new ad titled “Border” and released Tuesday.

He is one of several candidates making illegal immigration and MS-13 gang violence a top issue. Others from around the nation and not just those from border states have joined in as polls of Republicans show the issue is a key one.

Just last week, Secrets reported on a poll from the Convention of States that put illegal immigration at the top of those issues voters are worried about.

The rise of MS-13 has also sparked outrage in Congress, leading many candidates to back the Justice Department’s crackdown on the gang.

Embattled northern Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock, for example, has pressed for a tougher handling of MS-13, winning support for her legislation. And she also has spoken out against illegal drugs crossing the border. In August, she is participating in an event for Loudoun County, Va., Sheriff Mike Chapman with the two DEA agents who caught druglord Pablo Escobar and are featured in the Netflix series "Narcos."

Few non-border candidates, however, have done what Corlew has in traveling to the border to meet with agents and witness the impact of crossings. His new ad was shot in Texas and New Mexico across from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

“I wanted to listen those living and working along the border to see what needs to be done to secure the border. I had the privilege to meet with border patrol agents, law enforcement officials and small business owners New Mexico and Texas. I walked along the current border wall that is between Texas, New Mexico and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and saw how our border patrol and law enforcement bravely protect and serve our country while being ostracized by the liberal left,” Corlew said

In his ad, he promised to back Trump’s effort to end illegal immigration and the importation of drugs and gang violence associated with it.

Jessica M. Vaughan, policy director for the Center for Immigration Studies, said it is smart for campaigns to hit illegal immigration.

"Border security is important to every community in America, because what comes across the border doesn’t stay in the border region – most of it is headed for other parts of the country. Most of the illegal drugs come over the border, and criminal smuggling operations bring in at least a thousand people a day, including criminals and gang members. Illegal immigration imposes a huge burden on taxpayers all over the country, and reducing it will bring economic and public safety benefits," she said.

"Judge Corlew says he will be a reliable vote for the Trump immigration agenda in Congress, and that will be helpful, because the executive branch can only do so much on its own. Congress needs to act on sanctuaries, asylum reform, and more funding for the border and interior enforcement. Not only that, being pro-border security is a winning political position, not only in the GOP primaries, but also in the general election, as the default Democratic position is anti-enforcement, pro-sanctuaries and pro-amnesty. He is smart to stake out a strong position now," added Vaughan.

Corlew in the ad also raised the issue of job losses to illegals.

“To protect the border, the border patrol and law enforcement need more resources to do their jobs. I will also work to stop drug traffickers from bringing dangerous illegal counterfeit drugs like those laced with fentanyl across the border. And because open borders cost Tennessee jobs, I will fight unfair trade deals to bring back jobs across the border so Tennesseans can keep their jobs in Tennessee,” he said.

Corlew is running for the seat held by Rep. Diane Black who is running for governor of Tennessee.