Washington — Republicans and U.S. Senate GOP candidate Terri Lynn Land are trying to make immigration an issue in the race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Carl Levin.
Land, a former Michigan secretary of state, and Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, both won uncontested primaries Tuesday and now begin the general election season in what is seen as a close race, though most polls have shown Peters with a lead.
The Land campaign says Peters has multiple positions on immigration, while the Peters campaign says the Secretary of State’s Office issued fake licenses to illegal immigrants while Land was in office.
In a new 30-second spot, Land highlights the flood of at least 57,000 children who have come across the U.S. southern border — nearly all from Central America.
“A crisis at the border, thousands of illegal immigrants flooding into America. What’s Gary Peters’ position?” the narrator says. The ad features two grainy clips from Peters — one in which he says “Certainly enforcement is very important,” and also “Immigration reform is not about more enforcement.”
The Peters campaign says it is not clear what the full context of the latter quote is that was taken from a early 2013 appearance by Peters in Detroit.
“Gary Peters plays both sides of the issue, putting Washington politics ahead of what’s best for America and best for Michigan. Terri Lynn Land knows we need to secure the border and enforce our laws to protect our jobs and put Michigan first,” the ad says.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee criticized Peters as well.
“Gary Peters has failed to secure our southern border, period,” said NRSC Press Secretary Brook Hougesen. “When it comes to securing the border, Peters’ incomprehensible position is at odds with itself and a reminder of his failed record as a member of Congress.”
Peters’ campaign argues that Land is trying to shift attention away from other recent controversies that have dogged her campaign. It also points to her decision in February to decline to talk about immigration reform, telling Politico the issue was “hypothetical” but adding that “obviously we need a secure border — that’s No. 1.”
“Now that Terri Lynn Land has no business credentials to run on, she’s trying to distract from her failed record as secretary of state. The truth is that Ms. Land issued fake licenses to illegal immigrants until federal agents cracked down on the criminal ring that happened on her watch," Peters spokeswoman Haley Morris said.
Peters supports an immigration reform package that the Democratic-controlled Senate approved on a 68-32 vote in June 2013. The bill includes about $46 billion in new border enforcement spending and would double the number of Border Patrol agents along the U.S.-Mexican border to at least 38,000, add 350 miles of new fencing and new security technology enforcement measures.
The GOP-led House didn’t vote on the legislation, and Republican House members have criticized portions of the legislation.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, last week in Washington urged Congress to pass immigration reform.