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It's the economy...oops; It's the Hispanics and the border stupid?

There are more hispanics in this country than African Americans (18.5% vs 13.4% of our population). The number one issues according to polling data right now is immigration (over inflation or the economy). That is the issue BTW that Trump exploited to win the 2016 election. The majority of Hispanics when polled lean conservative and are in favor of stricter border controls.

Democratic Primary in Border District Shows Divides on Immigration Policy

After the FBI raids his home, incumbent Rep. Henry Cuellar uses views on border policy to attack challenger, progressive lawyer Jessica Cisneros

Laredo, Texas, along the border with Mexico, is in Texas’s 28th Congressional District.

By Tarini Parti

Feb. 26, 2022 5:30 am ET

LAREDO, Texas—A Democratic primary fight in a southern-border congressional district is highlighting the party’s broader turmoil over immigration policy and whether it can hang onto the support of moderate and Hispanic voters.

Nine-term Rep. Henry Cuellar, in a rematch of a close 2020 race, faces progressive lawyer Jessica Cisneros, who lost by fewer than 3,000 votes in their last race in Texas’s 28th Congressional District. Ms. Cisneros got a boost in fundraising and a fresh look from some voters after the Federal Bureau of Investigation last month raided Mr. Cuellar’s home and campaign office. The FBI has disclosed few details about the investigation; the congressman says he is cooperating with the probe.

Mr. Cuellar, 66 years old, is one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress and one of the party’s top critics of President Biden’s handling of the border, pushing the administration to increase border security and deterrence strategies such as deportations. He has sought to make the March 1 primary in part a referendum on immigration policy and law enforcement.

Ms. Cisneros, 28, a former immigration lawyer, is aligned with the party’s progressives who say policies aimed at deterring migrants from crossing the border don’t work and want to emphasize overhauling the asylum system and creating more legal pathways for migrants. In ads, Mr. Cuellar says Ms. Cisneros wants to make deep cuts to the U.S. Border Patrol, a reference to a 2019 candidate questionnaire she submitted.

A third Democratic candidate, former community organizer Tannya Benavides, could ensure neither Mr. Cuellar nor Ms. Cisneros earns a majority of the vote in a tight race, forcing a runoff in May.

The Biden administration has found itself caught between the Democratic party’s centrist and progressive wings on immigration policy as it tries to manage a surge in migrants at the southern border. The issue is especially heated in Mr. Cuellar’s district, where Democrats lost some voters to the Republican Party in the 2020 election. Mr. Biden won the district by about 4 percentage points, compared with Hillary Clinton’s nearly 20-point margin over Donald Trump in 2016. Mr. Cuellar, however, beat his GOP opponent in 2020 by about 19 percentage points.

Mike Uribe, 55, who works as a meat cutter at a grocery store in Laredo, has supported Mr. Cuellar in the past, but he said he was reconsidering because of the FBI raid. He said he wants the border to be more of a priority for elected officials, however, and he is concerned that Ms. Cisneros’s views on the border are too liberal.

“The border is out of control,” he said recently. “Something has to be done.”

A December Wall Street Journal poll found that immigration was the top policy priority for 13% of voters across the U.S.—the biggest share for any issue—followed by the economy, inflation and other topics.

The South Texas district represented by Mr. Cuellar is slightly more Democratic this year after redistricting. About 80% of its population identifies as Hispanic and a significant part as Catholic. Among those who live in the district are oil-industry workers and a growing number of federal law-enforcement officials. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, including some on horseback, walked in a parade in Laredo recently to cheers from the crowd. The Laredo area has at least three Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers.

Roughly half of Hispanics who voted in the 2020 presidential election said they supported spending more on the border, limiting asylum and reducing immigration, and 42% said they backed more deportations, according to recent data released by Equis, a Latino firm that specializes in analyzing the Latino electorate. The December WSJ poll also found that Hispanic voters are showing signs of dividing support between Democrats and Republicans more evenly than in recent elections.

Since the FBI raid, Mr. Cuellar hasn’t been holding public events. He skipped Laredo’s “Washington’s Birthday Celebration” parade, one of the biggest community events of the year. A small group of his longtime supporters waved his campaign signs on the sidelines.

Retirements Are Latest Challenge Facing Democrats Ahead of Midterms



Retirements Are Latest Challenge Facing Democrats Ahead of Midterms

Retirements Are Latest Challenge Facing Democrats Ahead of Midterms

With the 2022 midterm election just months away, the Democratic Party faces losing its congressional majority due to a growing number of retirements. Photo illustration: Elise Dean

Instead, he has been highlighting the funding he has brought home from Washington and the ways he says Ms. Cisneros is out of step with the district’s voters. Besides border policy, the two candidates have differing views on abortion, climate, guns and healthcare. Mr. Cuellar was the only Democrat in the House last year to vote against legislation that would codify abortion rights into federal law and has had an “A” rating by the National Rifle Association. Ms. Cisneros backs a progressive agenda that includes support for a single-payer healthcare system known as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, a proposed economic overhaul to address climate change.

“She wants to get rid of Border Patrol—in fact, she wants to turn them into environmental specialists to look at the water in the Rio Grande,” Mr. Cuellar said in an interview, echoing the attack ads he recently began to air against Ms. Cisneros. “Open borders is what people don’t want to see. So those are the issues that people have been bringing up.”

Ms. Cisneros, who recently campaigned with progressives such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), said in an interview that Mr. Cuellar was misconstruing her positions, saying her goal is to diversify the jobs in her district beyond law enforcement. “We need multiple pathways to a middle class here and for that we have to have different kinds of jobs,” she said, mentioning jobs related to infrastructure and expanding broadband as examples.

Ms. Cisneros said the U.S. has failed at deterring migrants for decades, and she wants to use her experience as an immigration lawyer and of growing up at the border to push for changes.

At early-polling sites and community events, several Democratic voters said they were tired of the border being politicized by both parties. Some Cisneros backers said she would bring a fresh approach to managing the surge.

“There definitely should be more enforcement, but bring new ideas on how to do things,” said Jose Mendoza, a 44-year-old educator.

Sylvia Bruni, chairwoman of the Webb County Democratic Party (Laredo is the county seat), said she is concerned that GOP messaging related to the border will hurt the eventual nominee in the November election.

“Folks who don’t know any better literally think that we’re being overrun by the hordes,” she said. “I would say to my president, help us please and help debunk this foolish, damaging rhetoric.”

Some Republicans say if Ms. Cisneros wins the primary, it could bolster their chances of winning in November, given the increased support former President Trump received in 2020. Progressives, however, have said that voters in South Texas are unconventional, pointing to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’s win in Mr. Cuellar’s district in the last Democratic presidential primary.

“There’s going to be a shift…and a lot has to do with the border,” said Cassy Garcia, one of the GOP candidates running for Mr. Cuellar’s seat.

Ms. Garcia, a former staffer to Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), received the endorsement of the National Border Patrol Council, the agency’s union, which has backed Mr. Cuellar in the past. She is running in a crowded GOP primary, which includes Sandra Whitten, the 2020 GOP nominee for the seat.

Cuellar fans showed their support at a parade earlier this month in Laredo, Texas.

Cynthia Sanchez, 65, a GOP voter in the district, said Democrats were focusing more on the border of Ukraine than the southern border. “It’s just a slap in the face,” said Ms. Sanchez, who added she knew many Democrats concerned about the border but didn’t think it would be enough to flip the district anytime soon.

Matt Angle, a Democratic strategist in Texas, said GOP gains in South Texas in the 2020 election have been overblown, but Democrats can’t afford to ignore Republicans’ safety argument related to the border.

“I think what creates trouble for Democrats is when they allow immigration policy to start getting defined as you’re either for safety or against safety,” he said. “Republicans will exploit that.”

Write to Tarini Parti at

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