Cobb, Stefanik argue over border, even when they agree
Both candidates running for the North Country’s congressional seat Nov. 3 spoke this week on immigration and border issues. Both support funding to secure the U.S. borders, although incumbent Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik says her opponent Tedra Cobb doesn’t.
Stefanik is focusing on protecting border agents, whose union has endorsed her, and Cobb is focusing on securing the border “humanely.”
This debate comes after Stefanik’s campaign stated last week that Cobb “supports Medicare for All for illegal immigrants.”
Cobb does not support Medicare for All anymore, though she did during her 2018 election bid. She wants there to be a public option to buy into Medicare, the federal health care plan for older people.
“I believe that everyone deserves access to quality, affordable health care,” she wrote in an email.
The Stefanik campaign’s reasoning behind saying Cobb wants undocumented immigrants to be covered by Medicare for All stems from a now-deleted policy platform on Cobb’s website that states her “vision” is to “provide comprehensive health insurance for all United States residents.”
“She already publicly said she supports zero resources for border security,” Stefanik spokeswoman Madison Anderson wrote last week. “Taxin’ Tedra wants illegal immigrants to pour into our country and then she wants us to pay for their healthcare.”
Cobb says that’s not true.
“Stefanik is leading her campaign on politics of fear,” Cobb said in response on Thursday.
Cobb, of Canton, was asked about border issues in her Zoom town hall Wednesday.
“We have a moral imperative to help families stay together, and to secure our southern border,” she said on the call. “This is not about not securing our southern border.”
She said she wants to reduce the trauma the U.S.’s immigration system causes through family separation policies.
She said she grew up with nine adopted siblings and saw the lifelong impacts childhood trauma can have.
“Many of my siblings came to my family after a childhood of trauma,” Cobb said.
She said she also believes in funding border security and having a secure border.
“Because of what’s happened on the southern border, I think that mostly likely, more funding to shore up the southern border may be necessary,” Cobb said.
She said she wants to “end cruel and humane family separation” and said “DREAMers” — undocumented immigrant children who were brought to the U.S. as children — need a secure pathway to citizenship.
Cobb said she believes there is bipartisan common ground on issues like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which is similar to the DREAM Act, ending child separation and increasing farm visas, but she said Washington politicians are not able to get along enough to pass “anything meaningful.”
Asked about where Stefanik thinks border security funding should be set, Anderson said the congresswoman from Schuylerville has voted numerous times to increase funding for border security.
“Tedra is on the record saying she supports zero funding for border security,” Anderson wrote.
This is false. In a clip the Stefanik campaign provided as evidence, a 2018 radio interview with 790 WTNY’s Alan Walts, Cobb says she opposes spending money for a wall on the U.S. southern border, but she does not speak on any other border funding.
Asked if the U.S. should make it easier for people to immigrate legally, Anderson said “Stefanik has long advocated for fixing our broken immigration system.”
She gave examples of Stefanik’s co-sponsoring a year-round visa program and supporting increases to the maximum number of to J-1 and H2B visas issued, which are used to keep a well-staffed workforce in the North Country.
Asked if a Mexico border wall would be effective and cost-effective to stopping illegal immigration, Anderson said Stefanik supports physical barriers, increased personnel and increased technological capabilities along the southern border.
Stefanik’s focus is often on the northern border, though. She is the national co-chair of the Northern Border Caucus and has advocated for increased northern border funding and encouraged partnerships between U.S. and Canadian border agencies, as well as increased U.S.-Canada trade.
In July Stefanik was endorsed by the National Border Patrol Council, which represents 18,000 Border Patrol agents under the Department of Homeland Security.
In a press release, Border Patrol leaders of the union praised Stefanik for supporting the “rule of law.”
“Cobb is on record saying she would choose to support zero funding to improve border security,” union President Brandon Judd said in a press release, repeating this inaccurate statement. “She has proven to be a radical, anti-law enforcement candidate who has joined the list of Far-Left Democrats smearing federal law enforcement in her advertisements. Her policies will undoubtedly make your communities in Upstate New York much more dangerous for you and your children.”
Judd referenced an advertisement from Cobb’s campaign showing footage from protests and riots following the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. The ad includes a clip of police shoving a 75-year-old man to the ground, slamming his head on the sidewalk, and aerial footage of police dispersing crowds with tear gas and batons.
“You and I know that Congresswoman Stefanik has and will always listen to your concerns about your safety and security,” National Border Patrol Council Local 2724 President Brandon Budlong, who said he is an upstate New York native, said in the press release. “She will go above and beyond to ensure all law enforcement, including the Border Patrol to protect your communities and our homeland to keep the American people safe.”