HELENA – Montana may be far from the U.S. southern border, but the issues of immigration and national security still loom large in the state’s 2018 races for U.S. House and Senate – particularly for the Republican candidates.
Republican challenger Matt Rosendale has been hitting Democratic incumbent Sen. Jon Tester hard on immigration policy – saying Sen. Tester is going against the wishes of Montanans.
“Jon Tester has also supported sanctuary cities, and open borders, and amnesty … Having such a porous and insecure southern border. … has an incredible cost, both socially and economically, and I think Jon Tester has been a very big obstructionist,” Rosendale said.
But Sen. Tester says Rosendale’s accusations have no relation to the truth, “once again, he lives in a different universe and just makes up information that’s his agenda,” Sen. Tester said”
Sen. Tester notes that the Border Patrol’s union endorsed him – because he’s tough on border security and believes in giving the patrol the resources they need.
He also voted for a comprehensive immigration bill in 2013 that that beefed up border security – but also gave illegal immigrants a potential path to citizenship — after they’d been here for at least 13 years.
The bill passed the US Senate, but not the US House of Representatives.
Sen. Tester has voted three times against failed bills that aimed to punish so-called sanctuary cities – but says he opposes sanctuaries for illegal immigrants.
“Every one of those bills that was put forth on sanctuary cities cut law enforcement – most of them cut law enforcement – or they cut economic development,” Sen. Tester said. “If they want me to vote against sanctuary cities, don’t cut local law enforcement. Don’t cut the economic development. And I’ll support the bill.”
Rosendale notes that Sen. Tester has still opposed funding for President Trump’s proposed wall on the southern border.
“I hear Jon saying these things, but he has not supported the president when the president is trying to get proper funding to secure our border,” Rosendale said. “And that is where it all begins. We have to secure the border.”
Rosendale has come out strongly for building the wall – arguing that without it, and other strong border enforcement, illegal-drug and human trafficking will continue.
Montana is a long way from Mexico and the southern border but it’s safe to say these issues will play a role in how some Montanans vote in this closely fought Senate contest.
Libertarian Rick Breckenridge is also on the ballot in the Montana US Senate race.
-Mike Dennison reporting for MTN News