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Caught on Camera: Kelly Ayotte Repeatedly Claimed to Oppose Amnesty as Candidate

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

On Sunday, New Hampshire Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte announced her support of amnesty. With her support, amnesty could be more likely to pass in the Senate.


However, as a Senate candidate in 2010, Kelly Ayotte repeatedly claimed to oppose amnesty. She detailed the unfairness and lawlessness inherent in amnesty policy, and said Arizona was facing an “invasion.”

At one candidate’s forum, Ayotte said: “For the people who are here illegally, I don't support amnesty; it's wrong. It’s wrong to the people who are waiting in line here, who have waited for so long. And we need to stop that because I think that's where the Administration is heading next.”

As a candidate, she told a local TV station, “I do not support amnesty… we should not reward people who have come here illegally and broken our laws.”

At another candidate’s debate, she said “I don’t support amnesty because you know what, if you support that, that means you’re basically rewarding people who violated the rules and I don’t think that’s right.” At that same debate, she was asked again about amnesty, and once again stated, “I do not support amnesty. I think that in fairness to people they have to get in line and follow our rules. We need to secure our borders and enforce our existing laws...Amnesty is not the right answer because otherwise we’re just rewarding people for violating our laws.”

When asked if levels of illegal immigration rise to the level of an “invasion” under the Constitution, Ayotte replied, “Certainly with what they were going through in Arizona, it was an invasion, it remains an invasion, and they had to act.”


Ayotte’s campaign website repeated these claims. “In the Senate, Kelly’s top immigration priority will be to secure our borders – no excuses. Simultaneously, she will work to ensure that existing immigration laws are enforced and is against amnesty.”

In her recent announcement, Ayotte recited rhetoric about America’s history of immigration to explain her support for amnesty.

“As a nation of immigrants, we must remember that we’re all descended from people who came here from somewhere else in search of a better life,” her website announcement reads.

However, as a candidate, Ayotte explicitly rejected the notion that our history of immigration somehow justified amnesty, and drew a distinction between legal and illegal immigration: “We are all the sons and daughters and granddaughters and grandsons of immigrants... But when they came here, they came here to play by our rules… For the people who are here illegally, I don't support amnesty; it's wrong. It’s wrong to the people who are waiting in line here, who have waited for so long.”

Those remarks were made at an Americans for Prosperity candidate’s debate.

In her 2010 interview with a local TV network, she explained her opposition to amnesty in detail:

“I do not support amnesty. I think our borders need to be secured. We need to enforce our existing immigrations laws. But we should not reward people who have come here illegally and broken our laws. There are so many people who are waiting in line through the legitimate process that want to come to our country and contribute and play by the rules. That’s why I don’t support amnesty.”

In 2010, Ayotte also blasted the patterns of immigrant welfare abuse and refusal to assimilate: “[W]e have people who are coming here just… to get healthcare and then leave. And they're not even being part of our society and there's something wrong with that. But fundamentally, I think the best thing we can do right now is secure our borders, enforce our existing immigration laws and English is the language of our country.”

As a candidate, Ayotte publicly supported the Arizona immigration law as well. At a New Hampshire GOP candidate’s forum, she stated, “We have to secure our borders as a matter of public safety. We have to secure our borders because with people coming over … illegally, it’s also putting a burden on our health care system and education system. We need to enforce our existing immigration laws that aren’t being enforced right now.”

The current proposal does not guarantee border security or enforce existing law. Instead, it creates several supposed triggers, which are non-binding, and that give total discretion to the Department of Homeland Security.

The so-called border security triggers consist of plans and reports written by the secretary of Homeland Security.

Ayotte now claims that legal status “is dependent on first meeting border security and employment enforcement measures.”


Ayotte may have used the words “border security and employment enforcement measures” instead of the term “requirements” because she understands that there are in fact no actual border security requirements in the current proposal. In fact, the Senate rejected an amendment that would have created an actual border security requirement.

Many commentators and immigration experts who have critically reviewed the proposed bill are concerned that border security essentially depends on trusting politicians, who have repeatedly not told the truth about securing the border in the past.

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