HARTSELLE — With a little more than two weeks to go until Republicans head to the polls to select their preference of who will represent their party on the ballot against U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) on the November 3 general election ballot, the first wave of attack ads have gone up on the airwaves.
U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) gets credit for being the first to go on offense with two television spots.
In one, two actors portray his opponents — former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville. However, in another, audio of Tuberville from a Shoals Republican Club meeting back in August is used to make the case Tuberville is an advocate for amnesty for illegal immigrants.
“There are people coming across the border that need jobs,” Tuberville says on the audio. “And we want them to come over here. We just need to know who is here, put the wall up — then let them come in and become citizens like we all became citizens.” A narrator replies, “Hey, Tommy, that’s amnesty.”
On Saturday, during a campaign stop at Bentley’s at the Outhouse restaurant in downtown Hartselle, Tuberville sat down with Yellowhammer News to clarify his position on so-called “amnesty” and elaborate on his beliefs on immigration policy.
“There is no pathway to citizenship if you come here illegally,” Tuberville said when asked for his definitive position on amnesty for illegal immigrants. “You have got to go and start back the right way.”
“None,” he replied when asked again.
Tuberville maintained that advancing the construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall, as proposed by the Trump administration, was central to his position on immigration policy. He emphasized its necessity to thwart drug trafficking.
“If we get it up, we can slow the drug traffic down,” he said. “Eighty percent of drugs come across the border. I’ve dealt with it every day, and it is getting worse. We lose 60,000 people a year in overdoses.”
The football coach-turned-candidate insisted the wall is the top priority before pursuing any changes to current immigration law.
“My stance from day one has been this: We don’t even think about any kind of talk with anybody who is here until we get that wall built because it doesn’t make any difference, because people keep coming,” Tuberville said. “We’ll end up having to change it for this group, change it for that group.”
“There are so many people who want to come here the right way,” he continued. “There’s 400,000 people in India today that speak English, that are educated, that want to come to this country. But we can’t let them in because we’re being overrun at the border. Until we can control what is coming in, we don’t need to do anything about immigration.”
When asked about the DREAMers, which refers to those immigrants brought illegally to America as minors, Tuberville said he would have to look at it as a U.S. Senator after wall construction.
“I’d have to look at – I’d have to look at all of it,” he said. “As a senator, you get the information. Who knows who is here? Does anybody have a real clue of who is here in this country? How many we’ve got? For me to make any speculation toward any group – I wouldn’t have any opinion on that.”
Tuberville admitted there was a degree of frustration reflected during his speech earlier in the day at the Madison County Republican Men’s Club breakfast in nearby Huntsville. However, he said it had nothing to do with amnesty allegations and more to do with the culture of politics.
He attributed the attacks that he supports “amnesty” to the “swamp.”
“This group that’s saying this stuff about amnesty, or whatever they’re saying about me – it’s the swamp,” Tuberville said. “They can’t run on anything. They don’t do anything. They’ve never done anything. They take a paycheck, and then they try to get reelected. We’re in the problems now because of the people I’m running against. They create the problems. I’m trying to go solve the problem because I know the problem.”