Ohio GOP Senate hopeful Bernie Moreno calls Democratic proposals 'deeply offensive' to legal immigrants

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Ohio Republican Senate candidate Bernie Moreno slammed Democrats’ immigration policies, calling them “deeply offensive” to those individuals – like himself and his family – who came to the United States legally.

In an interview this week about the sweeping immigration provisions embedded in President Biden’s “Build Back Better” spending plan, Moreno criticized the plan as a “wishlist from the left.”

Included is a provision that would give parole to approximately 7 million illegal immigrants. Parole, which federal law says is to be used on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarians reasons or significant public benefit, would be used to give illegal immigrants protections if they were in the country before 2011 and are either recipients of Temporary Protected Status, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or are deemed “essential workers.”

It would give parole for up until September 2031 and would require them to pass background checks and don’t have serious criminal records. It is the latest effort by Republicans to try and get protections past the Senate parliamentarian — who has shot down two broader citizenship pathways for illegal immigrants on the basis that it is not appropriate for a budget reconciliation bill.

“When you come here legally to this country, which is very rigorous, and you watch people being rewarded for coming here illegally, it is deeply offensive,” Moreno told Fox News.

Moreno, his parents, his five brothers and one sister came to the United States on Dec. 15, 1971, just before his fifth birthday, from Colombia. It took Moreno 13 years to become a U.S. citizen.

“The thing my mom reminds me of every time I see her is that the greatest gift she ever gave me was bringing me to the U.S., and she’s right about that,” he said. “When I was a kid, I took becoming a citizen seriously.”

Moreno said, with his mother’s help. he studied the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

“I wish Joe Biden’s mom had done the same thing for him,” Moreno told Fox News. “This country would be a much better place.” 

He added: “I can name a few members of Congress who need a crash course on what this country is all about.”

Ohio GOP Senate candidate Bernie Moreno.
(Bernie Moreno Senate campaign)

As for Democrat policies with regard to immigration, Moreno said they are “sending a loud and clear signal.” 

“They talk about dog whistles—they are sending a bull horn to all of Central, South America,” he said. “Come to our country illegally, break our laws, and we will reward you.”

Moreno likened illegal entry into the United States to skipping the line at Starbucks.

“There is a line. We are the most generous country on earth,” he said. “Think about if you’re in line at Starbucks. Imagine people started cutting the line, and getting their drinks, and then getting them for free,” Moreno said.

“So you’re paying, right, you’re waiting in line, somebody cuts in front of you, and not only do they not get punished, but they get a free cup of coffee,” he said. “I mean, who would be more upset? Me watching that? Or you in line?”

He added: “That is the situation we are in right now.”

Referring to the Biden administration’s proposal to pay $450,000 to immigrants who were separated from their children at the border during the Trump administration, Moreno said the “idea of paying people who broke our laws is so catastrophically insane that I’m afraid it could become a trip wire, at some point, the country just breaks, and says, we won’t put up with it anymore.” 

“You would see people being paid who broke our laws, about 10 times the average pay of the average American, right?” He said. “How does that feel for those who go to work every single day, knowing that their government is misusing their tax dollars in that way?”

Meanwhile, as Moreno runs for Senate as part of a crowded and competitive GOP field in the 2022 race to try and succeed retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman, he’s highlighting himself as a political outsider—and used former President Trump as his inspiration.

“I’m a family man, I’m a person who has been creating jobs my whole life, I am a true outsider,” Moreno told Fox News. “I am doing this for public service, and not for a job.”

2022 Ohio Senate primary candidate Bernie Moreno.
(Bernie Moreno campaign)

Moreno told Fox News that, if elected, he would donate his salary to nonprofit organizations in Ohio.

“I’m doing this to give back to the country that gave me every opportunity,” he said, adding that voters in Ohio want a candidate who “just wants to help their country, and not be in a situation where they are doing this to get a job, or promote themselves, or somehow enrich themselves as a result of being a senator.”

As for Trump, Moreno said he “reimagined the Republican Party to be the party of people who are law-abiding citizens that love liberty, freedom and America and are sick and tired of politicians that shipped our jobs overseas; didn’t take care of our veterans; fought endless wars.” 

“It is a movement that will survive way beyond President Trump,” Moreno said. “He is the first person that really proved what I am going to do—which is, that you could be an outsider, job creator for your whole life, and then serve your country in a meaningful way.”

He added: “If it weren’t for President Trump, the idea of somebody like me running for the United States Senate, after never having held political office before, would have seemed insane. But he broke that mold.”

Moreno said Trump “fought, unlike anybody else, against a lot of unfair criticism that was unparalleled in American history.” 

“He never backed down, and showed Americans how to fight, and how to stand up for ourselves, so I think the country owes an enormous debt of gratitude,” Moreno said.

Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report. 

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