ICYMI: John Deaton Returns to Yuma, AZ – Visits Border and Former Marine Duty Station

John Deaton, Warren’s Republican challenger, visits border to ‘truly understand’ immigration
Boston Herald- May 8, 2024

John Deaton, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate, took a long flight south this week to visit the United States-Mexico border to “truly understand” the root causes of immigration issues that have sparked contentious debates in both Washington and Massachusetts.

Planning for the trip to Yuma, Arizona came in the wake of Gov. Maura Healey’s decision to use the Melnea A. Cass Recreational Complex in Roxbury to house homeless migrant families with children and pregnant women as they awaited placement in the state’s emergency shelter system.

Deaton, who grew up in a neighborhood of Detroit… said the move “struck a chord with me because I know what it’s like in that inner city.”

Taking away a recreation center where kids play sports “bothered me on a big level because I identify with those kids,” Deaton said.

“That’s when I said, ‘listen, this is getting completely out of control. I want to take a trip to the border. I know the issue but I need to understand the problem better.” Deaton said by phone Tuesday from a hotel in Yuma hours before he started his trek back to Massachusetts. “You can’t offer solutions if you don’t fully understand not just the impact of the problem, but the root cause of it.”

The visit to Yuma included multiple visits to the border fence, including one Monday night with Yuma County Supervisor Jonathan Lines that lasted until about midnight followed by another Tuesday morning. Deaton also had dinner on Monday with Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot.

Deaton said the trip reinforced the idea that Congress and the Biden administration need to “secure the border,” including by utilizing more technology and tools to stop “the illegal flow” of migrants into the U.S.

U.S. Border Patrol agents encounter thousands of migrants crossing into the U.S. at the border with Mexico each month, according to the Pew Research Center…

“As much sympathy as I had, and I do have, for undocumented migrants, I probably didn’t truly grasp the humanitarian crisis that these failed policies have created,” Deaton said. “I didn’t truly appreciate what these migrants are going through.”

Spending on emergency shelters in Massachusetts has become a hot topic on Beacon Hill, where state lawmakers have approved hundreds of millions in extra spending to account for an influx of migrants from other countries…

Deaton said he does not think there is “any winning party” when it comes to immigration, though the topic does highlight “the broken system of partisan politics and division that is happening in Washington, D.C.”

Deaton said he would have voted in support of an immigration bill that failed to clear Congress earlier this year even though it was not “perfect.” He also supports amending Massachusetts’ right-to-shelter law, which guarantees temporary housing to homeless families with children and pregnant women, including migrants.

Deaton emphasized that he has “empathy and compassion” for migrants who are fleeing oftentimes unstable conditions in their home countries.

“When you learn what they’re going through, I don’t care what political party you belong to, if you’re a human being with a good heart, you’re going to be impacted by these stories and you’re going to feel for these people,” he said.

But he said he still believes more needs to be done to curb the flow of drugs and “potential bad actors” flowing across the southern border.

“We need to close the border and expand our legal immigration,” he said. “I support expanding our legal immigration making it easier for people to become citizens to live here to work here.”

The former Marine is no stranger to Yuma, having served there for three years on active duty from 1996 to 1999, including as one of the top prosecutors at the local Marine Corps Air Station.

In one case he prosecuted in 1999, Deaton said a Marine lance corporal was being used by a cartel to transport drugs across the border.

As the chief prosecutor for the base, Deaton said he coordinated with border patrol agents and Naval Criminal Investigative Services on a sting to break up the operation, arrest, and successfully prosecute the Marine.

“I’ve had experience with trying to combat the drugs coming through. And I learned some incredible things like I learned that the amount of fentanyl that’s just coming across Yuma County at the border could be as high as 50% of the fentanyl that enters Massachusetts,” he said.

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