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2022 Midterms: Top 10 Most Anti-Immigrant Candidates

Sep 30, 2022

The midterm elections are just six weeks away. While many congressional candidates have shaped their campaigns around abortion rights, inflation, and gun violence, immigration policy remains one of the most important and consequential issues for voters nationwide.

A total of 469 seats in the U.S. Congress (34 Senate seats and all 435 House seats) are up for election. While certain states will remain havens for immigrants, others have become more of a toss-up in an increasingly polarized country. Certain congressional candidates have come out fiercely in opposition to immigration and have garnered massive support. In cases where such candidates are running for office in specific battleground states, their stances on immigration could reverberate nationally and impact the lives of millions.

Here are the congressional candidates who have among the most extreme views on immigration, and the corresponding races that could affect immigration policy as a whole:

Most anti-immigrant candidates

1. Blake Masters, R–Arizona, Senate

Blake Masters is a former venture capitalist known for making extremist, racist remarks. His surprising GOP primary win in Arizona was a result of his hardline stance on a single issue – immigration – and appears to be the key point in his race against current Democrat Sen. Mark Kelly. He has promoted a somewhat-sanitized version of the racist “great replacement” conspiracy theory, claiming that Democrats are trying to bring more immigrants to the country in order to dilute the power of U.S.-born citizens. He supports ending all forms of “illegal” immigration as well as various diversity and inclusivity initiatives. While Masters is trailing behind Kelly in the polls, Arizona is an important battleground state and his views are garnering increasing traction, with Trump’s endorsement as well as millions of dollars in campaign funding from Peter Thiel, his former boss. Kelly’s position as an incumbent is one of the most precarious this election season.

2. Katie Britt, R-Alabama, Senate

A staunch supporter of “securing America’s borders,” Katie Britt wants to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, bring back Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, and supports increasing military spending and Border Patrol funding. She blames immigration for the spike in “deadly drugs, violence crime and human trafficking” in Alabama and for fueling the nation’s opioid and fentanyl crisis. She believes immigration has driven down Americans’ wages, and plans to restrict diversity visas and decrease legal immigration by half. According to FiveThirtyEight’s forecast, Britt’s odds of winning are more than 99 in 100.

3. Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, Senate

Sen. Kennedy is one of the strongest supporters of anti-immigration policy in the state, cosponsoring at least fourteen bills curtailing it. He supports “Remain in Mexico” and the border wall, and has criticized the Biden administration’s handling of the current border crisis. He was one of 18 senators who visited the U.S. border, after which he was infamously quoted saying that supporting illegal immigration is not a moral good.

4. Adam Laxalt, R-Nevada, Senate

Laxalt, the former Attorney General of Nevada who comes from a family of U.S. Senators and is a veteran, is running for senate against Democratic incumbent Catherine Masto in one of the most competitive races this election. Laxalt’s immigration policies mirror many of his Republican peers – he supports building the wall, “Remain in Mexico,” and curbing illegal immigration through “technological means” as well as ending sanctuary cities. But unlike many of those candidates, Laxalt’s odds of winning are neck-and-neck with his progressive opponent. Democrats have a razor thin margin in keeping control of the Senate, and if Laxalt wins, that margin is all but destroyed. In addition to his hardline views on immigration, Laxalt has also supported the national ban on abortion and reducing economic welfare schemes to curtail inflation.

5. Herschel Walker, R-Georgia, Senate

In another extremely competitive race against Sen. Ralph Warlock, Walker’s position on immigration is centered around securing the U.S. southern border and curtailing immigration that leads to drugs, crime, and trafficking in Georgia. He supports increasing police and military funding as well.

6. Donald C. Bolduc, R-New Hampshire, Senate

Bolduc, running against incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan, is a far-right politician who has supported the conspiracy that the 2020 election was fraudulent. He supports building the wall, turning away illegal immigrants at the border, making E-Verify mandatory (a USCIS system that allows employers to perform optional background checks on employees or applicants) and preserving COVID-era law Title 42 even without a public health emergency.

7. Ted Budd, R-North Carolina, Senate

Holding a slight lead in a close race against Democrat Cheri Beasley, Budd claims undocumented immigrants commit more violent crimes and supports withholding federal funding from law enforcement agencies that refuse to cooperate with ICE. Continuing to use rhetoric that paints all undocumented migrants as dangerous, Budd’s campaign has garnered sympathy from many conservative voters.

8. Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, Senate

The incumbent senator of Oklahoma, Lankford is likely to be reelected. He has cosponsored more than 18 bills in the last two years strictly curbing illegal immigration and allowing increased funding for deportation and policing of migrants. He has introduced legislation to fix “loopholes” that allow noncitizens with criminal records to remain in the U.S. He has been outspoken against the Biden administration’s handling of the border crisis and has made statements generalizing undocumented immigrants as rapists and murderers.

9. Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, Senate

An outspoken congressman who has cosponsored at least 9 bills against immigration, Scott has campaigned against ending financial support for vulnerable undocumented immigrants, calling such aid a national security crisis that incentivizes people to cross the border. He issued a statement about the dangers of pro-immigration reform and claimed that American taxpayer dollars are being given to “individuals who broke our nation’s laws.”

10. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, Senate

Once critical of Donald Trump, former venture capitalist and Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance now aligns with the former president, having won his endorsement for the Ohio Republican Senate primary. Now the candidate somewhat favored to win the midterms in another competitive race, Vance has made statements about immigrants that have been described “as vile as it gets.” He also is further deepening partisan divides, in what could shape significant national policy. If Vance were to become Ohio’s next senator, he will, in his own words, “oppose every attempt by Democrats to grant amnesty [to migrants], finish construction of the border wall and double the number of border agents in the country.”

Honorable mention:

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida

A controversial figure for his opinions on gun policy, healthcare, and capital punishment, Florida Senator Marco Rubio has taken a mixed stance on immigration. While he has made several statements condemning refugees and has echoed the anti-immigrant rhetoric of his Republican peers, he has also proposed significantly expanding merit-based visas and providing a 13-year path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. His candidacy relies on the approval of Florida’s massive Hispanic immigrant base, with immigration being a key issue in the state. In recent months, however, his once-staunch support of “comprehensive immigration reform” has given way to similar calls for increased border security and stronger fines for illegal immigration. Nevertheless, Rubio could be an important player in a bipartisan future for immigration, with some of his general policies receiving wide support from all Americans.

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