Watch CBS News

CA Democrats, Campaign Strategists Split On Immigration

SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) - As the midterm elections loom, a rift is developing among Democrats on immigration. Some are saying it's better to emphasize other issues, but in California, not every candidate agrees.

The New York Times is reporting about a memo being circulated among Democrats running for office telling them to spend as little time as possible talking about immigration.

That's the national take. It may not be true in California.

Nathan Ballard is a Democratic strategist for The Press Shop.

"Trump is trying to characterize Democrats as an angry mob and you play right into his hands, when you say things like, 'Let's abolish ICE' because most voters are not with you on that issue."

According to the New York Times, a memo being presented in briefings to Democrats says they should spend "as little time as possible" talking about immigration and it is "very difficult to win on immigration" in states Trump won in 2016.

Ballard says in California, even Democrats who want immigration reform, don't rank it as high as jobs and health care.

"There are so many issues that Californians, according to the polling that I have seen, care so much more about than immigration reform," said Ballard.

Try telling that to Democrat Kevin De Leon the state senator who is running to be a U.S. senator, and hopes unseat incumbent Dianne Feinstein.

He says voters do care about immigration policy.

"For all Californians, this is one of the top priorities," said De Leon. "Putting food on the table and bread and butter issues are not exclusive to the issue of immigration reform.'

He says he doesn't want open borders, but he does want a path to citizenship for undocumented people who are here.

"We're talking about, what do we do with the sizable population of hardworking mothers and fathers who have businesses who own their homes, who have their children here," said De Leon.

And he wants to abolish ICE.

"I think ICE has to be dismantled and it has to be reconstructed where they deal with serious, violent, criminal felons," he said.

Ballard adds that's out-of-step with moderate voters.

"This talk about abolishing ICE, or abolishing it and reconstituting ICE, it's just crazy talk. It's really coming from the far left fringes.

Kevin De Leon told me, if he listened to people who told him no, he wouldn't' have accomplished anything. So, he'll running on the issues and pushing for change.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.