Tester on suggestion immigration bill support motivated by election-year politics: ‘Bulls—‘

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Montana Sen. Jon Tester (D) is dismissing the suggestion that his support for an immigration bill is motivated by election-year politics.

“That’s bulls—,” Tester told Punchbowl News. “You can’t on one hand talk about how the border’s not secure, and on the other hand say we’re not going to secure the border because we don’t want it to be secure.”

I’ve got my own brand,” Tester added. “Bottom line is, we’re going to do what’s right for Montana.”

Last week, Tester became the first Senate Democrat to co-sponsor the Laken Riley Act. The bill, which is named for a 22-year-old University of Georgia nursing student allegedly killed on her school’s campus by a Venezuelan migrant, would require federal officials to apprehend and detain undocumented immigrants that commit specific crimes until their removal from the U.S.

Tester said at the time that keeping Montana safe was his top priority, adding that he has “repeatedly called on the Biden Administration and Congress to do more to secure the southern border.”

“After hearing from law enforcement officers across Montana, I’m backing the Laken Riley Act to make sure that individuals who enter our country and commit a crime are held accountable so that no Montana family has to worry about the safety of their loved ones,” Tester said.

Tester said last month that he would support the bill as a stand-alone after previously voting against it when it was offered as an amendment to a spending package to fund the departments of Defense and Homeland Security alongside other priorities.

Tester is facing an intense road to reelection in deep-red Montana. The incumbent and Republican candidate Tim Sheehy are only separated 0.2 percent in The Hill/Decision Desk HQ’s polling average, with Tester at 46.1 percent and Sheehy at 45.9 percent.

Republicans have targeted the Biden administration for its handling of immigration and issues related to the border.

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