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Ayotte, Rubens Clash on Immigration at First Primary Debate

Jason Moon for NHPR

At their first debate Thursday, incumbent Republican U.S Senator Kelly Ayotte and her challenger, former state Senator Jim Rubens, clashed on the topic of immigration.

Rubens spent much of the debate on NH1 News going after Ayotte’s record on nearly every issue, including her support for the so-called Gang of Eight immigration reform bill in 2013.

The bill included a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the United States. It passed the U.S. Senate, but ultimately failed in the House.

Rubens said the legislation would have led to an explosion of new immigration.

“That extent of immigration leads to a failure of assimilation and that leads to the serious cultural tensions we’re seeing in Europe. We don’t want that here. So I sharply disagree with the extent of excess immigration that your Gang of Eight bill would have allowed in this country. It’s too much.”

Ayotte fired back, and defended her vote.

“Just to be clear, that bill double the amount of border agents, created an entry/exit system, secured our border, and making sure our legal immigration system was stronger and that the criminals who are illegal immigrants got deported, which is exactly what Donald Trump is talking about.”

The two will square off for another debate on WMUR next week, before the Sept. 13 primary.

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