U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s campaign pounded his Democratic challenger on Wednesday for giving the Biden administration a pass on its lax immigration policies.
The Florida Republican’s spokeswoman said Orlando Democratic Rep. Vel Demings wasted an opportunity to call for tougher border policies, and in doing so ducked her own record on supporting President Joe Biden’s open-border agenda.
Rubio’s camp highlighted Demings’ comments from a House Homeland Security Committee hearing, during which Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas fielded questions about the agency’s 2023 budget.
Demings made her remarks after two Florida Republicans challenged Mayorkas over the crisis that’s enveloped the Mexican border.
In one exchange, GOP Rep. Carlos Gimenez of Miami asked the secretary if he believed Biden’s policies were responsible for a fivefold increase in illegal border crossing in the past two years. Mayorkas said no.
The congressman then noted that just 5 percent of those who come to the border seeking political asylum are actually from Mexico. So why not, he added, return the rest to Mexico and ensure Mexico is not relieved of its obligation to control its border. He also asked why the Biden administration was fighting a policy to make asylum-seekers remain in Mexico. Mayorkas replied that illegals who don’t qualify for asylum are booted out of the country.
Afterward, Rep. Kat Cammack, a Gainesville Republican, asked Mayorkas if believed in enforcing the law, after noting how arrests and deportations of illegals had plummeted since Biden took office. The secretary said he did.
Cammack then asked if Mayorkas would audit $130 million set aside for emergency food and shelter that she said had been spent to shelter illegals and transport them throughout America. Mayorkas denied that the money had been wrongfully spent, but that he would comply with an audit.
In response to this, Demings called for getting “politics” out of our “broken” border situation.
“We all want to keep dangerous people out of the United States,” the Democrat said, “but the bottom line is our system is broken. It has been broken for a while. And I really do believe we could fix it if we get politics out of our way.”
Rubio’s campaign denounced that comment by Demings, who is considered his main rival for the 2022 election.
His camp argued Demings “glossed over” her own failures to support tougher border policies – moves made to please the House Democratic leadership.
As examples, Rubio’s campaign noted Demings, the former police chief of Orlando, had rejected policies to detain and deport illegal immigrant gang members, including the violent thugs of MS-13. She also had voted against former President Donald Trump’s border wall and increased security funding.
On the other hand, Demings had backed sanctuary cities, allowing illegal immigrants to vote and eliminating Title 42, the policy invoked by Trump that, because of the pandemic, allowed border authorities to immediately expel illegals without a hearing.
“Every single word of what Demings said about the border in today’s hearing is contradicted by her own actions,” Rubio spokeswoman Elizabeth Gregory said in a statement.
“Demings went to Washington and abandoned the people she represents, leaving Floridians more vulnerable thanks to her repeated failure to take action at our southern border.”