Rep. Ruben Gallego Continues Immigration Flip-Flop As Senate Race Heats Up

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Democratic Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego is attempting a more moderate immigration posture as his state’s three-way Senate race heats up.

The congressman has long favored a lenient immigration policy verging on open borders. In recent months, however, he has voiced support for Title 42 and called on the Biden administration to better prepare for migration surges. Gallego is currently locked in a tight hypothetical matchup with Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and several Republicans.

From his earliest days in Congress, Gallego has been deeply critical of officials enforcing immigration law. Gallego introduced legislation in 2015 that would eliminate the term “illegal alien” from federal law. He called it “dehumanizing and offensive.” In his second term, Gallego accused Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents of “deporting Americans.”

“You will not be safe,” the congressman said. (RELATED: Dem Rep Introduces Bill To Let Illegal Immigrants Serve In The Military)

More recently, he has blasted the COVID-19 pandemic-era rule called Title 42, which allowed the Trump and Biden administrations to rapidly expel illegal immigrants in the name of public health. Gallego signed onto a 2021 letter calling on Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas to “safely and effectively end all expulsions under title 42as soon as practicable.”

Two years later, Gallego signed onto another letter accusing the Biden administration of “further dismantling the right to seek asylum at our border” with its reinstatement of the Migrant Protection Protocols. He also accused Biden of “circumvent[ing] domestic law and international law” by continuing Title 42.

Faced with the end of Title 42 and a prospective migrant surge, however, Gallego changed his tune. Despite previously saying the order was “not effective,” he worried that the end of Title 42 would mean a “surge of migrants” that Arizona was “simply unequipped to handle.” He also said that the Biden administration should consider an emergency declaration.

“I think at this point, we should really put on the table an emergency declaration. I think that will actually do a lot of help for that area,” he told Politico.

Federal agents arrested 40,000 migrants in the southern Arizona Tucson sector in July, according to Customs and Border Protection. It was the highest number for the sector in 15 years, according to The Washington Post.

Gallego declared his Senate candidacy in January, one month after Sinema left the Democratic Party. She has not yet announced whether she will seek a second term in the upper chamber. Polls have consistently shown that Gallego would garner between 32 and 37 percent support in a three-way race and in the low 40s in a two-way race, with many voters still undecided.

The race’s most recent poll, conducted by Emerson College from Aug. 2-4, found Gallego tied at 42% in a hypothetical matchup with Republican Mark Lamb, with the rest of the voters undecided. In a three-way race, Gallego would hold 36% support, Lamb would garner 29%, and Sinema would hold 21%. The poll of 1,337 registered voters has a margin of error of 2.6%.