Published Monday, Aug. 15, 2016 | 2:59 p.m.
Updated Monday, Aug. 15, 2016 | 6:17 p.m.
Nevada’s Democratic congressional candidates marked the fourth anniversary of the implementation of the president’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program today by attacking their Republican opponents over their support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
U.S. Senate candidate Catherine Cortez Masto and House candidates Ruben Kihuen and Jacky Rosen praised the program during a news conference at Del Sol High School, notable as the site where President Barack Obama in 2014 detailed his plans to expand DACA and extend relief to parents of DACA recipients.
Under DACA, certain unauthorized immigrants who came to the United States as children are eligible to apply for a two-year deferral from deportation and for work permits.
The attacks from the three Democratic candidates were familiar.
Cortez Masto said the most “damning thing of all” about her opponent, U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, is that he supports Trump as the next president of the United States. She also criticized Heck for “putting party politics ahead of the people of this state and our country.”
Heck recently said Republicans publicly denouncing Trump make the party look bad. “You’re entitled to vote for whoever you want, but you don’t have to add gasoline to the fire,” Heck said at the Sierra Nevada Republican Women’s Luncheon, according to the The Record-Courier newspaper in Gardnerville.
Cortez Masto’s campaign has repeatedly said Heck is Trump’s “ideological soul mate,” a claim recently ruled false by PolitiFact. But in an interview, Cortez Masto said there wasn’t any distance between Heck and Trump on the issue of immigration.
While Heck and Trump agree in some areas — like mandatory E-verify for employers and improving border security — Heck opposes mass deportations and has supported a pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants.
In Jan. 2015, Heck, Rep. Cresent Hardy and Rep. Mark Amodei were three of 26 House Republicans who voted with Democrats against an amendment that would have defunded DACA.
Kihuen, who is running in the state’s 4th Congressional District, similarly declined to acknowledge any difference between his opponent, Hardy, and Trump on immigration. Hardy doesn’t support amnesty for all immigrants but supports a path to legal status for some.
Kihuen, however, said anything short of supporting comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship is “accepting Donald Trump’s stances.”
“Look, what the Latino community wants is comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship. We want nothing less than that,” Kihuen said. “And Cresent Hardy opposes that, and that is the bottom line.”
Rosen, meanwhile, denounced opponent Danny Tarkanian as an “extremist” who is “totally against bipartisan immigration reform.”
Of the three Republican congressional candidates, Tarkanian’s position on immigration is the most closely aligned with Trump, as Tarkanian supports building a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border and has said he will vote against amnesty.
“Extremists like Donald Trump and my extreme opponent Danny Tarkanian seem to have forgotten their own immigrant backgrounds,” Rosen said.
In response, Tarkanian said in a statement that Rosen is “already engaged in Harry Reid-style mudslinging” against his family and his heritage. (Tarkanian’s grandmother immigrated to the U.S. after fleeing the Armenian Genocide.)
He criticized Rosen for defending DACA, calling her a “status quo defender who is out of step with Nevadans who want real immigration reform to protect all citizens.” He said he will give Nevadans a “true voice in a bipartisan approach” in solving immigration issues.