Migrants seeking to enter the United States need easier access to temporary work permits, and long-term residents need a path to citizenship, Stockton Farmer Kalena Bruce said Thursday during the Republican debate in the 4th congressional district.
Bruce, who said farmers and ranchers need a reliable workforce, also called for stronger border controls. But her stance sets her apart from the other three GOP hopefuls on stage in Warrensburg.
Bruce is one of seven candidates in the August 2 Republican primary to replace U.S. Representative Vicky Hartzler. The seat is open as Hartzler is a candidate for the US Senate primary.
The 4th arrondissement extends from from central Missouri west to the Kansas border along and mostly south of the Missouri River.
The debate was sponsored by the Missouri Times and KMBC and broadcast from KMOS, the Warrensburg PBS station. It will be broadcast on 11:30 a.m. Sunday on KCPT in Kansas City.
Alongside Bruce, the participating candidates were State Senator Rick Brattin of Harrisonville, former Boone County Clerk Taylor Burks and retired Kansas City anchor Mark Alford.
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Bruce made his remarks on immigration when KWOS radio host Austin Petersen asked if additional migrant workers would help solve both the labor shortage and inflation issues.
The problem, Bruce said, is inaction because “immigration reform has been defeated by Congress after Congress.”
With labor shortages both in agriculture and other sectors, the key is regulated entry, she said.
“We need an H2A and H2B program which has less bureaucracy,” Bruce said. “We need people who have been in our country for generations, they need a path to citizenship, but ultimately we need to close the borders.”
Others on stage insisted that nothing should be done to increase immigration.
Brattin blamed inflation on federal spending deficits.
“I don’t think an influx and an influx of illegal immigrants into our country is the answer,” he said.
Burks also said he supported securing the border and agreed with Brattin that deficit spending was the problem. But he challenged Brattin and Bruce when he said he was the “only applicant who didn’t receive federal grants” during the COVID pandemic.
Brattin’s company, Brattin Construction, received a $9,330 loan from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Bruce’s accounting firm, Integrity squared in Bolivarreceived a PPP loan of $40,400.
“People can talk about a big game while they’re on their feet here or in Jefferson City or in front of cameras,” Burks said. “We need people who have proven they will fight for the things we care about.”
Bruce bristled at the thought that she had taken a “document”.
“It kept small businesses afloat,” she said. “He kept those employees working, and I think that program was essential.”
Alford stayed out of the fray and said the only way to understand the issues along the border is to go there. He called for reviving construction of the border wall begun under President Donald Trump.
“We need to deport illegal aliens,” Alford said. “And no, we have enough jobs here in America for Americans to fill.”
The hour-long debate covered several other topics, including which candidate for the hotly contested Senate primary they would support. Alford and Brattin differed, saying they were focused on their own primary.
Bruce gave his full support to Hartzler, who leads the polls along with Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and former Gov. Eric Greitens.
“We need someone who understands farming, herding and the rural way of life,” she said.
Burks, who was nominated by Greitens to serve as Boone County clerk in 2017, said he didn’t decide between Hartzler and Schmitt and lamented the trio of favorites didn’t argue.
The story of a Victim of rape at age 10 from Ohio who had to travel to Indiana for an abortion was not mentioned, but it provided the backdrop for a question about whether Congress should penalize people who cross US borders. state to obtain abortions.
In June, the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v Wade decision recognizing the right to abortion. In Missouri, abortion has become illegal minutes after the announcement of the decision.
Brattin, who said he tried to pass a bill allowing prosecution of anyone who helps a woman obtain an illegal abortion in Missouri, said he would “absolutely” support a bill to make it a federal crime the fact that a doctor performs an abortion. someone from another state.
Bruce said she would support such a law, while Alford said he couldn’t take a position until he knew the details.
Burks said the goal of overturning Roe v Wade was to put decision-making on abortion back in the hands of elected state officials.
“The federal government has no role to play in regulating who crosses state lines, issues like that,” he said.