Border crisis becomes campaign fodder in across the country

An undocumented immigrant awaits transport to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing center after being detained on July 22, 2014 near Falfurrias, Texas.

John Moore, Getty Images

Congress left Washington last week for its month-long recess without addressing the influx of unaccompanied minors that have crossed the border into the U.S., but politicians are still talking about the issue on the campaign trail.

Two weeks ago, Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown became the first statewide candidate to address the border crisis in a campaign ad -- even though he's running for Senate in New Hampshire, thousands of miles away from the U.S.-Mexico border.

Since then, the issue has cropped up in ads and on the debate stage in states like Michigan, Alaska and Arkansas.

Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who is running for Senate against vulnerable Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, released an ad last week lamenting the "chaos and crime" at the southern border. The ad charges that Pryor voted for "amnesty," "citizenship for illegals," and against a border fence.

The comprehensive immigration bill that Pryor helped pass in the Senate last year included funding for 20,000 more border agents and a 700-mile fence, Pryor's campaign points out in a response ad. The legislation would have given undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, but Pryor's ad quotes Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who said, "Anyone who calls it amnesty is not being intellectually honest."

Meanwhile, in Michigan, GOP Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land launched an ad last week charging that her opponent, Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., "plays both sides of the issue." It includes footage of Peters saying border enforcement is "very important" while saying at a separate event that "immigration reform is not about more enforcement."

The Peters campaign told the Detroit News that the context of the congressman's remarks isn't clear from Land's ad. Peters' spokesperson added that Land is "trying to distract from her failed record as secretary of state."

In Alaska, where three Republicans are seeking the nomination to run against Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, the issue of immigration reform was hotly contested in a Sunday debate, the Associated Press reports. Two GOP candidates, former Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan and Lt. Gov Mead Treadwell, refused to sign a pledge to oppose all "amnesty" measures. The third candidate, tea party favorite Joe Miller, offered up the pledge. Treadwell reportedly criticized Miller for mailing out campaign flyers featuring menacing-looking Hispanic gang members.