Heading into the July 14 primary, the three Republicans seeking to represent the state’s 2nd Congressional District are laying out tough stances on immigration.

Adrienne Bennett, left, Eric Brakey and Dale Crafts. File photos

Dale Crafts of Lisbon warned in a debate in Lewiston that “a lot of people come to our country who are changing our way of life and changing our culture.”

“It’s a disaster,” Crafts said, as he hailed President Donald Trump for “doing something about it.”

Another of the trio of contenders vying for GOP backing in a July 14 primary, Adrienne Bennett of Bangor, said immigrants are “cutting in line” to claim services ahead of native Mainers.

Maine’s 2nd Congressional District — the largest east of the Mississippi River — is 94% white.

The remaining contender, Eric Brakey of Auburn, said at the debate that the nation not only needs to build a wall along its border with Mexico, it needs to put American troops there “and have their guns pointed south.”

It’s not the first time Brakey has made harsh comments about immigrants.

During his unsuccessful 2018 U.S. Senate bid, Brakey claimed that since Americans have rejected the left’s effort at “selling socialism,” its “new strategy is mass importation of new voters to transform our political culture.”

The GOP primary, which will pick the Republican challenger to U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a first-term Democrat from Lewiston, has seen all three contenders vying to win over the president’s voters. Trump has not indicated a preference among the trio.

While immigration has faded as a hot issue since the arrival of a new coronavirus in March, the effort to clamp down on undocumented people entering the country has been a hallmark of Trump’s administration, which has also taken steps to restrict the number of legal immigrants.

The Republican candidates don’t always make a distinction between immigrants whose legal status is solid and those who lack proper paperwork.

At the campaign’s first debate in Lewiston, Bennett said she opposes sanctuary cities, which don’t exist in Maine, and proceeded to question why immigrants allegedly get so much help from the government.

Expressing disappointment that new Mainers get assistance, Bennett asked, “What about old Mainers? What about our seniors?”

As the oldest state in the country, Bennett said, “we need to take care of each other.”

She said that while natives wait for needed services, immigrants are “cutting in line in front of Mainers.”

“We need to put Mainers first,” Bennett said.

Crafts said the country should start “by just enforcing the rules that we already have” on immigration.

That hasn’t happened, he said, because Democrats want newcomers to pour into the country since “they usually end up being Democratic voters,” though only legal immigrants who have become U.S. citizens are allowed to vote.

“We have to take care of our own,” Crafts said, but Gov. Janet Mills “just keeps inviting ’em” to Maine.

“Thank God for Donald Trump,” Crafts said.

Brakey said the nation should have immigration “on our terms” instead of having people showing up at the border.

Brakey said wars that he blamed on President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton created the refugee crisis in Libya and Syria — though not many refugees in the U.S. are from either country.

Over the past two decades, the countries that have sent the most refugees to the U.S. are Burma, Iraq and Somalia, according to the Pew Research Center.

Brakey said the problem is that American troops “never come home but the refugees of these wars come in their place.”

Only registered Republicans are allowed to cast ballots in the congressional primary. Absentee ballots are already available for anyone who wants to avoid going to the polls during the statewide primary election July 14.


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