Sen. Maggie Hassan said Wednesday she supports the construction of more of Trump’s border wall and she declined to apologize to angry members of the local Latino community. Progressives have responded to the incumbent Democrat’s new immigration stance by suggesting they may stay home in November.
Members of the New Hampshire Hispanic community reacted with horror last week when Hassan released a video of herself standing in front of the Trump border wall announcing her support for more “physical barriers” at the border. Her staff shot the video at an angle framing the senator with the barbed wire across the top of the wall in the background.
During an interview on WGIR Wednesday, host Chris Ryan asked Hassan about “criticism from folks in the Democratic Party for your trip to the border [who] felt that you were scapegoating immigrants.”
“Do you have any regrets about your trip?” Ryan asked.
Rather than expressing regrets, Hassan doubled down on her new immigration-enforcement politics.
“First of all, I respect their views,” Hassan said of New Hampshire’s Hispanic community, then immediately moved on to her opposition to ending Title 42 authority put in place by the Trump administration and used to stop nearly 2 million would-be immigrants from crossing the border.
“What I’ve been really clear about is, there is agreement that if we lift Title 42, we will see an increase in attempted border crossings,” Hassan said. “What we haven’t seen from the administration yet is a really specific plan about how they’re going to handle that expected increase in crossings.”
Hassan said agents at the U.S.-Mexico border told her there was a need for “additional physical barriers,” also known as a fence or a wall.
“One of the things that really struck me was a stretch of wall in Nogales, Arizona that has a 10-foot gap. It’s nonsensical. We need to complete that wall and fill in that gap.
Asked if she supports finishing the Trump border wall, Hassan didn’t say “no.” Instead, she said, “There are practical places for a wall and impractical places for a wall. I want to assess where a wall makes sense.”
Immigration advocates don’t agree.
“I certainly don’t think Sen. Hassan’s border wall stunt was anything other than a disaster for her,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice. “When you pretend that you’re something you’re not, it doesn’t work.”
“Immigrants need support, not walls, Senator! We must reinstate the right of migrants to seek asylum,” tweeted the progressive organization 350 New Hampshire Action.
And state Rep. Maria Perez (D-Milford) has been outspoken in her opposition to Hassan and Rep. Chris Pappas’ support for keeping Title 42 in place.
“Any efforts to uphold Title 42 actively support the continuation of family separations, trauma, and violence against Black, brown, and immigrant communities,” Perez said.
Last week, Perez was among a group of Hispanic Democrats who quit the New Hampshire Democratic Party over the stance of Hassan and Pappas. Now she says she was “very disappointed to learn about some political leaders calling other caucuses and asking them not to sign the letter to Sen. Hassan. Very disgraceful and undemocratic from our leadership!”
And, she added “silence is not an option.”
Hassan appears to be counting on silence, or for the media to largely ignore the complaints from progressives toward what they consider racist policies embraced by Hassan and Pappas.
But not all progressives are remaining silent. State Rep. David Meuse (D-Portsmouth) has called on Hassan to apologize for her border wall stunt. And former Democratic gubernatorial nominee Arnie Arnesen revealed how low progressive expectations have dropped when it comes to Hassan.
“The value of Maggie in the U.S. Senate? She will vote against Mitch [McConnell] as Senate Majority Leader (think Supreme Court). Repeat: The value of Maggie in the U.S. Senate…she will vote against Mitch as Senate Majority Leader.”
Meanwhile, word had come from Washington that, as Axios reports, “President Biden’s inner circle has been discussing delaying the repeal of Title 42 border restrictions, now set to end May 23, according to a source with direct knowledge of the internal discussion.” However, on Wednesday the White House appeared to rule that out.
“We are planning and preparing for the end of Title 42 on May 23,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said.
Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has joined 25 other governors to create the American Governors’ Border Strike Force, a multi-state partnership designed to fight against illegal immigration and its consequences.
“The crisis at the southern border affects all 50 states,” said Sununu. “The drugs that flow into New Hampshire are coming directly from the southern border, and this strike force will increase collaboration and information-sharing between the states, helping keep our citizens safe.”