PLAYER PROFILE

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. After beating Martha McSally for the seat in a 2020 special election, he will have to run again in 2022.

Arizona is a border state with a rising Hispanic electorate. As such, Kelly — who gained national recognition as a gun regulation advocate following the 2011 non-fatal shooting of his wife, then-Congresswoman Gabby Giffords — has been defining his positions on immigration policy.

While some of his positions might be more centrist than others in his party — he does not, for instance, support providing government-run healthcare to undocumented immigrants — Kelly is focused on the same core issues: passing the DREAM Act, stopping family separations at the border, and conceiving of a more nuanced and varied approach to border security instead of a single, continuous wall.

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.”

SOURCES:

Kelly’S IDEAS

  • 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.” He has criticized President Biden’s response to the surge of migrants arriving at the border in the first months of 2021, asking for “a plan to address the immediate crisis.”

  • Border Wall

    While Kelly does 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 does 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

    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.”