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Another View - Donna Sytek: Ayotte and Shaheen are not immigration twins

August 12. 2014 12:46AM

Harry Truman once said, “If you can’t convince ’em, confuse ’em.” That’s what Democrats in New Hampshire are trying to do when it comes to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s record on illegal immigration.

With the Obama administration and Democrats facing widespread criticism for pushing immigration policies that have led to the current crisis on the southern border, the New Hampshire Democratic Party and Sen. Shaheen think they can fool voters by hiding behind Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s record.

Democratic Party spokesman Julie McClain claimed that Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte have the same position when it comes to the nation’s immigration policies. It is a misleading message the party has aggressively pushed, and it doesn’t tell the whole story.

For starters, Democrats won’t mention that Shaheen voted against a border fence not once, but twice — in 2009 and again in 2013 — during consideration of the comprehensive immigration bill. Ayotte voted in support of the border fence amendment last year, which would have required the completion of 350 miles of double-layer border fencing.

In 2010, Shaheen also voted against sending National Guard troops to reinforce border security. As a candidate for Senate at the time, Ayotte criticized Democrats who opposed the measure.

The Democrats also have starkly different positions about how to address the current flood of unaccompanied minors across the southern border. Sen. Ayotte has said she believes current law needs to be changed, and she is supporting the CREST Act, which would allow for the speedy return of undocumented minors to their home countries. Sen. Shaheen does not support this bill.

Kelly Ayotte also backed legislation recently to end the President’s 2012 executive action allowing for deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA), which she believes has been a key factor in causing the current situation on the southern border. Ayotte strongly opposed the executive action when it was announced in 2012, saying it was a political maneuver that would make it more difficult to fix our country’s immigration system. By contrast, Sen. Shaheen called the President’s unilateral move a “step in the right direction.”

And two Thursdays ago, Jeanne Shaheen voted for the Obama administration’s $3.6 billion spending bill, a measure that does not contain a single policy change to address the current border crisis. Ayotte wisely opposed the legislation. While Ayotte supported the immigration bill in the Senate last year, she also worked to improve it. Ayotte was instrumental in including “border surge” provisions and supported measures to strengthen border security provisions even further.

The differences between Shaheen’s and Ayotte’s records on immigration couldn’t be more clear, and the state Democratic Party is trying to confuse New Hampshire voters, who deserve to know the truth about Shaheen’s record on this issue.

Nice try, Democrats, but you can’t fool us. As John Adams said, “Facts are stubborn things.”

Donna Sytek of Salem is former Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives.

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