GOP Senate candidate Joe O’Dea visits U.S.-Mexico border ahead of midterm election

· Oct. 26, 2022, 10:39 am
Republican Joe O’Dea, who is running to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, at a GOP campaign event Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Denver.

With less than two weeks left until votes are counted, Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea is getting off the campaign trail to go to the U.S.-Mexico border for a two-day trip.

O’Dea said his trip to the border in the Rio Grande Valley is an attempt “to shine a light on what’s going on down at this border.” He said fentanyl is coming up through Mexico, which is killing Coloradans. 

“We got to do more to secure this border, that’s why I’m headed down there,” he said.

O’Dea added he was told in his discussions with now-retired Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen and Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader that the key to getting fentanyl under control is to secure the border.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 14,700 pounds of fentanyl was seized at the border so far in 2022. More than 175,000 pounds of methamphetamine and 70,300 pounds of cocaine were also seized at the border. 

When presented with the fact that most drugs are seized at legal points of entry, O’Dea said “Right now (CBP is) being overwhelmed because they have a border that’s leaking like a sieve, all the way down there and they can’t staff even the places where we come across.”

O’Dea is challenging Democrat incumbent Michael Bennet, who he criticized.

“Senator Bennet hasn’t gone down there,” O’Dea said. He and other Republicans also continue to criticize President Joe Biden for not going to the border. 

Bennet traveled to the southern border as part of the Gang of Eight trying to get immigration reform through.

At a CPR News candidate forum on Tuesday night, Bennet said he supported $40 billion for border security, but not for a “medieval wall,” rather the “21st Century border security that we developed in Iraq and Afghanistan that would allow us to see every inch of the border.”

“Michael is a proven champion on comprehensive immigration reform, which O’Dea noted last night, and he will continue to lead on this issue," said an emailed statement from a spokesperson with The Bennet campaign. "O’Dea leaving Colorado just 12 days before the general election tells voters all they need to know about his siding with Trump’s divisive anti-immigrant agenda."

CBP reported a record 2.3 million apprehensions along the southern border during the last fiscal year, with a growing number of people seeking asylum from countries like Venezuela and Cuba.

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