One of the very first votes Rep. Chris Pappas cast as a congressman was against funding for a border wall.

“I wouldn’t vote for any spending plan that includes the border wall,” Pappas declared on NHPR five years ago this month. “I think that’s irresponsible. It’s an idea that doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense.”

There had been 51,000 migrant encounters at the southern border in December 2018.

On Friday, Customs and Border Patrol announced that in December 2023, there were approximately 51,000 encounters in just four days. Last month’s 302,034 was the highest single-month number ever recorded.

Does Pappas still believe building a border wall is “irresponsible” and “doesn’t make a lot of sense?”

The three-term Democrat declined to respond to multiple requests for comment. But he and every other candidate running for office in New Hampshire this year should be ready for many more questions on the subject from Granite State voters.

At Boston’s Logan Airport, undocumented migrants are currently sleeping in the terminal. In the northern border’s Swanton Sector, which includes New Hampshire, illegal crossings have surged. Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed a letter last week defending the right of Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas) to defend his state’s border from illegal immigrant crossings and denouncing the Biden administration’s border failures.

And exit polls from last Tuesday’s First in the Nation presidential primary found immigration trailed only the economy as the top concern of the 322,000 voters who turned out for the GOP contest.

Granite State Republicans running for governor and Congress are more than happy to talk about the immigration issue.

New Hampshire Democrats? Not so much.

NHJournal has sent more than 50 requests for comment on immigration policy to the four Democrats in the federal delegation and another dozen to the two Democrats running for governor, former Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig and Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington.

They are all “no comment.”

That’s just fine with the GOP. Democratic silence helps make the case that these candidates are beholden to the open-borders progressives in their party who oppose any immigration enforcement.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Kelly Ayotte has taken it one step further, tracking the number of days Craig has refused to answer the question of whether she still supports sanctuary city policies in the Granite State.

“Joyce Craig and Cinde Warmington would turn our airports, businesses, and homes into shelters for illegal immigrants if they became governor,” Ayotte told NHJournal. “They’d make New Hampshire into a sanctuary state and tie the hands of law enforcement, making our communities less safe. When I am governor, the only people who will call New Hampshire their ‘sanctuary’ are taxpaying, law-abiding citizens. “

Ayotte has also visited the New Hampshire-Canada border, talking to law enforcement and discussing the surge in illegal crossings.

Not to be outdone, her GOP primary opponent Chuck Morse traveled to the Southern U.S. border during his unsuccessful U.S. Senate bid, and he’s using that experience in his campaign for governor. He also endorsed Donald Trump in the GOP presidential primary, citing the former president’s immigration policy as a key reason.

“Securing our nation’s borders should never have been a topic for debate. That’s why I immediately expressed my support for Gov. (Greg) Abbott. In contrast to my opponents, I’ve personally visited both borders, and I am the only candidate firmly against amnesty for illegal immigrants. As your next governor, rest assured I will always prioritize the safety and well-being of New Hampshire families,” Morse told NHJournal.

Images of illegal immigrants sleeping on the cold, hard floors of Logan Airport undermine the strategy of Granite State Democrats to simply not discuss the topic. The bad news from Massachusetts, where Gov. Maura Healey (D) has taken to asking private citizens to open their homes to undocumented migrants, is particularly problematic for Joyce Craig, who’s been endorsed by the Bay State Democrat.

Earlier this summer, Craig called for New Hampshire to issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.

U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) sits on the Homeland Security Committee that directly oversees border security. In the early days of the 2022 election cycle, when it appeared her seat might be at risk, Hassan suddenly reversed her position on several immigration issues, including embracing a border wall.

Pappas has also repeatedly reversed his stances on border security, in particular, the use of Title 42 to slow the flow of border crossings. While Pappas claimed during the 2022 election that he supported it, in May of last year, he voted against a bill to keep it in place.

His would-be Republican opponents see an opening. Russell Prescott, one of the Republicans running in the First Congressional District primary, issued a statement in response to events at the Texas border.

“While Joe Biden and Chris Pappas are playing a dangerous political game with the southern border, leaders like Gov. Abbott are taking action. As record-breaking numbers of migrants flood our country, I stand with Texas’ governor in his efforts to defend his state and, in turn, our country.”