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Analysis: The facts behind Gianforte’s ad attacking Williams on immigration

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HELENA -

HELENA- Republican U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte’s first campaign TV ad, which began airing last week, sharply criticizes Democratic challenger Kathleen Williams on immigration and foreign policy.

But some of the ad’s leading claims misrepresent Williams’ stated views on the subject.

Williams, a former state representative from Bozeman, and Libertarian Elinor Swanson of Billings are challenging first-term incumbent Gianforte. 

Here’s an examination of the Gianforte ad’s claims and the facts behind them:

Williams is “the candidate (for) radicals (who) want to abolish ICE”: ICE is the acronym for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, that enforces federal laws on border control.

In the wake of the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration, some groups and Democrats have called for abolishing or overhauling ICE. Williams is not one of them.

The Gianforte campaign defends the ad’s statement by saying the Montana Chapter of the group Indivisible is supporting Williams – and that the national group has called for the abolishment of ICE.

A spokeswoman for Indivisible in Montana says the national group has not called for abolishing ICE, and that Indivisible-Montana has not endorsed Williams – although its website does encourage people to help Williams’ campaign.

Williams, who has called the Gianforte ad “false and misleading,” says she supports ICE and its officers and cracking down on drug- and human-trafficking across the border.

Williams would “vote with (House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy) Pelosi for open borders and amnesty”: Williams said late last month that, if elected, she will not support Pelosi as the Democrats’ U.S. House leader.

Williams also has not said anything to indicate that she supports “open borders and amnesty” for illegal aliens.

She says she supports border security, but does not support a “coast-to-coast border wall,” which she believes would be “costly and inefficient.”

Williams also supports creating a path to citizenship for so-called “dreamers,” who are youths and young adults who were brought to the United States as children, by non-citizen immigrant parents.

She notes that Republicans, who control Congress, have failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform, and said she wants to work with “people of all political stripes to get results” on immigration.

Williams supports the Iranian nuclear deal “that gave billions to the leading funder of terrorism”: Williams has spoken in favor of the deal brokered by the Obama administration and five other countries in 2015, to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

The agreement also lifted economic sanctions against Iran and unfroze about $100 billion of Iranian assets in overseas accounts.

Williams said in a Facebook post this May that nuclear inspectors have confirmed that the “deal was working” and that it was the “best avenue that we have currently available” to keep Iran years away from having a nuclear weapon.

The Trump administration’s decision to abandon the deal “undermines our credibility to negotiate future arms-control measures,” she said.

During the campaign, Williams has rarely talked about immigration as an issue, instead focusing more on health care, land-use policy, education, taxes and gun safety.

About Mike Dennison

MTN Chief Political Reporter Mike Dennison joined MTN News in August 2015 after a 23-year career as a newspaper reporter covering Montana politics and state government. While some may believe that politics are boring, Mike firmly believes that's not the case if you tell the story with pizzazz and let people know why the story is important.
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