During a 2014 interview with Stephen Colbert, Rep. Tammy Duckworth said she would be “fine” with a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
“If the wall makes somebody happy and it’s not — then fine,” Duckworth said at the time. “But as long as we have comprehensive immigration reform.”
The border wall has been a divisive topic throughout the current presidential election cycle. Republican nominee Donald Trump has drawn sharp criticism for his plan to build a large wall to bolster security on the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Duckworth campaign said the congresswoman was discussing her support for a 2013 immigration reform bill that passed the Senate in 2013. The bill, which hasn't been acted on in the House of Representatives, would give undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship and construct 700 miles of border fencing between the U.S. and Mexico.
Duckworth spokesman Matt McGrath claimed the congresswoman’s comments were taken out of context from the rest of the interview.
“I’m still trying to figure out what the Kirk campaign is claiming here, and disappointed in their selective editing, which excludes Colbert’s plan for a flaming moat with fire-proof alligators,” McGrath said in a statement. “Maybe they didn’t get the joke."
Additionally, Democratic Party of Illinois spokesman Sean Savett told NBC 5's Ward Room that the congresswoman's statement isn’t inconsistent because every comprehensive immigration reform bill contains an accompanying bump in border enforcement.
McGrath noted that Duckworth has been a champion of comprehensive reform since 2006, while her opponent, Sen. Mark Kirk, has previously opposed such efforts.
“Tammy Duckworth has been a consistent supporter of comprehensive immigration reform, which includes both a path to citizenship and enhanced border security,” McGrath said. “Republican Kirk, on the other hand, has been all over map on immigration, opposed the DREAM Act when it had a real chance to become law, and only now appears to be doing what’s politically expedient.”
“Illinois deserves better,” McGrath added.
According to the Daily Herald, Kirk voted against the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act in 2010 alongside 40 other senators.
The senator also voted to filibuster the comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013, siding with hardline conservatives like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.
Kirk ultimately voted in support of the bill after an amendment was added allocating $30 billion for border enforcement. The bill, which includes the DREAM Act, passed the Senate in June of 2013, but hasn’t been acted on in the House of Representatives.
The Kirk campaign responded Friday, calling the Duckworth attacks false.
“Duckworth’s claim that Senator Kirk opposed the DREAM Act is verifiably and demonstrably false and her attack is reckless and completely unfounded,” Kirk spokesman Kevin Artl said in a statement. “The DREAM Act was incorporated into the 2013 bipartisan immigration reform bill supported by Senator Kirk.”
“In fact, Democratic Cong. Bill Foster praised the DREAM Act provisions in the legislation Kirk supported,” Artl added.
Kirk discussed the need for comprehensive immigration reform during a roundtable Wednesday alongside Rep. Bob Dold, the Illinois Observer reported.
Meanwhile, Rep. Luis Gutierrez published a blog post on Duckworth's Medium page that same day. The congressman criticized Kirk's stances and lauded Duckworth as a politician "fighting for immigration reform."