Mark Kelly

Democratic U.S. Senator from Arizona | Former Astronaut and Navy Captain

Democrat Mark Kelly, the former astronaut and Navy captain, is a United States senator from Arizona. He gained national recognition as a gun regulation advocate following the 2011 non-fatal shooting of his wife, then-Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. After beating Martha McSally for the Senate seat in a 2020 special election, he was elected to a full term in the 2022 general election.

Kelly won election to the U.S. Senate by relying heavily on his military credentials, fervently stating that active-duty military should not be stationed at the border. In a 2019 interview he said, “Our military is designed to handle national security threats . . . typically overseas. To deploy active-duty military troops at the border, I personally don’t think that’s the right approach. They’re not trained for that.”

Like his fellow senator from Arizona Kyrsten Sinema, Kelly has focused his immigration legislation efforts on bills that reach across the aisle. Joining a coalition that included every senator from a southwest border state, with the notable exception of Texas Republican Ted Cruz, Kelly co-sponsored a bill aiming to reimburse border communities for the cost of rendering humanitarian services to migrants. And, in April 2022, Kelly joined with a bipartisan group of senators to introduce legislation opposing the Biden administration’s attempt to end Title 42 deportations.

In fact, Kelly has been at odds with President Biden’s immigration policies on several occasions. Although President Biden and his cabinet have tried to frame the influx of migrants on the southern border as a “challenge,” Kelly has used more heated words, describing the border as “chaos,” “a mess,” and “crisis after crisis.” In a debate with his 2022 general election opponent Blake Masters, Kelly called Biden’s attempt to end Title 42 “dumb.” Yet Kelly agrees with the same core issues as the president: passing the DREAM Act, building a more robust humanitarian response at the southern border, and conceiving of a more nuanced and varied approach to border security.



  • Border Security

    Kelly believes in a “strong, secure border” and proposes making “more investments in technology, well staffed ports of entry and border patrol agents on the border, and, where effective, physical barriers and fencing.” On the campaign trail, he fervently stated that active-duty military should not be stationed at the border. He has criticized President Biden’s response to the surge of migrants that began arriving at the border in the first months of 2021, and opposed the Biden administration’s decision to end Title 42 deportations starting in May 2022.

  • Border Wall

    While Kelly did not support former President Trump’s vision for a 1,954-mile wall, he does advocate for building barriers where it can be helpful, particularly in urban areas. He does not support the use of military and emergency funds to further construction. “We can’t have an incredibly porous border,” he said in a 2019 interview. “But in some places it would be better if we applied technology,” saying that’s the way problems were solved at NASA, with “a science-based approach.”

  • Detention

    Kelly did not support the “zero tolerance” policy that has led to family separations in detention.

  • Immigration Courts

    Kelly has advocated for hiring more immigration judges and sending them to the border so they can process cases more quickly.

  • Undocumented Population

    Kelly does not believe undocumented immigrants should be covered under government-run health plans. He supports a pathway to citizenship for those living in the country illegally provided they don’t have a criminal record.

  • ICE

    Kelly does not support doing away with the agency.

  • DACA

    Kelly supports making DACA protections permanent and passing the DREAM Act.

  • Asylum & Refugees

    Kelly has said that “we need a system that can handle and process the asylum seekers.”

  • Central America Policy

    After President Biden’s first address to Congress in which he pledged to address the root causes of migration from Central America, Kelly criticized him for not giving more focus to the immediate situation on the border.

  • Visas

    Kelly has stated that he would like to improve the E-Verify system to “prevent big corporations from exploiting migrant labor and undercutting American wages.”

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