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U.S. House candidates in New Jersey differ on border crisis

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The candidates running to represent New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District support different approaches to immigration at the southern border.

Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom Kean has supported GOP-led efforts to address immigration at the southern border. He voted in favor of two bills sponsored by House Republicans in 2023.

One would to knowingly transmit :”the location or activities of law enforcement with the intent to further a crime related to immigration, customs, or controlled substances.”

The other bill was the House’s attempt at passing a full border security package. It included border wall funding and would’ve required migrants to remain in Mexico while their asylum claims were processed, known under the Trump administration as the “Remain in Mexico” policy.

“Today, the House passed the single strongest border security bill in our history,” Kean said in a news release on the Republican legislation. “This legislation takes on the drug traffickers, human smugglers, those on the terror watch list, and any criminals who wish to do our communities harm. We are fulfilling our duty to protect the homeland and her people. With this legislation, America will continue to shine bright for those across the world who seek the American Dream, while still supporting a robust system of legal immigration that upholds and respects the rule of law.”

Kean’s Democratic challenger, Susan Altman, lacks the public record on immigration Kean has. She hasn’t made immigration a central issue to her campaign. Altman has focused on corruption, abortion rights, and economic issues for working class New Jersey residents. Altman’s Twitter feed doesn’t feature immigration as a theme, either.

Altman’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

In a PBS interview, Altman acknowledged that “the border is a crisis” and “a problem.” A Huffington Post profile reported that “Altman expressed support for the enforcement-heavy bipartisan border bill that Biden negotiated with Senate Republicans.”

The Border Act of 2024 would allow the government to restrict border crossings if average crossings passed a daily average of 4,000.

In a June 15, 2024 tweet, Altman also expressed support for Dreamers, those who were brought into the U.S. when they were children but now are adults.

“The DACA program began 12 years ago. Dreamers – who were brought here as children and know no other nation – are Americans in the fullest sense of the word. They are a part of this country’s future, and we must work together to provide them with permanent protections and a pathway to citizenship.”

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program allows minors whose parents are undocumented to avoid deportation. It also offers work permits allowing the children of undocumented immigrants to work in the United States.

Kean has a section on immigration on his campaign website. It reads in part:

“Border security is national security, and our approach to combating illegal immigration must be comprehensive and include permanently securing our border, enforcing the rule of law, and ensuring law enforcement has the resources they need to carry out their duties. We also need commonsense approaches to protect children who have been brought to our country illegally through no fault of their own.”

Kean has not taken a public stance on DACA, and has supported bills emphasizing border security rather than paths to citizenship for immigrants inside the country.

Kean’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

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