Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Migrants deported from the U.S. walk into Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Tuesday, March 23, 2021. (AP) Migrants deported from the U.S. walk into Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Tuesday, March 23, 2021. (AP)

Migrants deported from the U.S. walk into Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Tuesday, March 23, 2021. (AP)

Jon Greenberg
By Jon Greenberg May 16, 2022
Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman May 16, 2022

Factchecking Arizona’s Blake Masters’ claim of open borders and Democratic amnesty plans

If Your Time is short

  • The southern border has nearly 20,000 Border Patrol agents, hundreds of miles of fencing, surveillance systems, and protocols that stop thousands of migrants each day.

  • People just entering the country now are years away from becoming eligible for U.S. citizenship — if Congress were to pass a law that would allow that.

  • In 2021, 56% of Hispanic voters said they identified or leaned Democratic, but Republicans made gains in 2020.

On the day that the murder of 10 people in Buffalo, New York, led to an online racist tract that spoke of people of color replacing white people, Arizona U.S. Senate Republican candidate Blake Masters tweeted his opposition to what he described as Democratic immigration policies.

"The Democrats want open borders so they can bring in and amnesty tens of millions of illegal aliens — that’s their electoral strategy," tweeted Masters May 14.

Masters’ tweet included a clip from a May 10 interview on "The Ben Shapiro Show." Asked about immigration, Masters said the Biden administration and Democrats like seeing thousands of people coming to the border "so that someday, they can amnesty these people, and make them voters."

This Republican talking point is common in the 2022 midterm elections. We have checked it before and found it inaccurate.

We reached out to the Masters campaign and did not hear back.

The border is not open

A COVID-19 policy invoked to allow border officials to quickly expel immigrants arriving at U.S. borders is scheduled to end May 23. Barring any change, immigrants may soon find it easier to request asylum and stay in the U.S. while their applications are pending. The impact on the number of people showing up at the border is difficult to predict. In some DHS scenarios, as many as 18,000 migrants a day might arrive at the southwest border, although one DHS official told Congress the number of migrants is expected to fall.

But even after the pandemic policy is over, many migrants can be quickly turned back or enter a long winding process if they are placed in removal proceedings or apply for asylum or other immigration protections. 

The term "open border" can be subjective, but controls at the southern border are significant. They include nearly 20,000 Border Patrol agents and surveillance systems that rely on motion detectors and blimps that scan for low-flying aircrafts. And there are hundreds of miles of fencing at the southwest border.

"There's no such thing as an open border," Terence Garrett, political science professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, told PolitiFact in April

In Biden’s State of the Union Address, he talked about the importance of strengthening border controls. 

"If we are to advance liberty and justice, we need to secure the border and fix the immigration system. We can do both," Biden said March 1, 2022. "At our border, we’ve installed new technology like cutting-edge scanners to better detect drug smuggling.  We’ve set up joint patrols with Mexico and Guatemala to catch more human traffickers."

Republicans have called for additional efforts, but the measures in place are aimed at policing the border. 

Turning immigrants into voters would take many years

The process of becoming a U.S. citizen — and therefore earning the right to register to vote — can take years.

"First you have to get the right to stay as a legal resident," said Eduardo Gamarra, professor of Latin American studies at Florida International University. "That can take three, five, maybe 10 years. Then you have to be a legal resident for five years before you can apply for citizenship. Then you have to wait more years after that."

During his interview with Shapiro, Masters spoke of Democrats "someday" granting amnesty to those who enter the country today. We can’t assess a prediction. But for the estimated 11 million immigrants who have been illegally in the U.S. for years, the latest Democratic proposal would put them on a path to citizenship that takes eight years. It’s unlikely that the proposal will get enough support in Congress to eventually become a law.

No guarantee that newly arriving immigrants will support Democrats

Masters’ statement assumes that newly arriving immigrants will eventually seek U.S. citizenship; however, not all eligible lawful permanent residents apply for naturalization. He also assumes that Latino voters are firmly in the Democratic orbit. Some evidence backs that up, but several trends push the other way.

In 2021, 56% of Latino voters identified as Democratic or leaning Democratic. On the other hand, Equis Research, a polling firm that focuses on Latino voters, found that Trump made gains in 2020, especially among voters in South Florida and south Texas in the Rio Grande Valley. In south Texas, for example, Democrats still won the Latino vote, but their margin went from 33 points in 2016 to 17 points in 2020.

"There is great diversity within the Hispanic voting bloc," the Equis Research report said.

Gamarra said there’s another reason more Latino voters might not translate into more Democratic votes. Many have weak ties to either party. And as a group, turnout can be relatively low.

"Especially among Mexican Americans, they don't vote as reliably as others," Gamarra said. "They might identify as Democrats, they may even register, but they don't show up."

In the last election, according to the Latino Data Project, the turnout for Latino voters was 54%, compared to 60% for Asian Americans, 63% for Black voters, and 71% for white voters.

Our ruling

Masters said that to win more elections, "Democrats want open borders so they can bring in and amnesty tens of millions of illegal aliens."

The rules, manpower and hardware at the southwest border might not satisfy Masters, but he exaggerates by saying the border is open. The process of becoming a U.S. citizen takes many years. And while current Hispanic voters lean Democratic, they have low turnout rates on Election Day. In the 2020 election, Republicans increased their share of Latino voters.

We rate this claim False.

Our Sources

Blake Masters, tweet, May 14, 2022

FiveThirtyEight, Have Latinos Really Moved Toward The Republican Party?, Feb. 14, 2022

Equis Research, 2020 Post-Mortem (Part One): Portrait of a Persuadable Latino, April 2, 2021

Latino Data Project, Latino Voter Registration and Participation Rates in the 2020 Presidential Election, May 2021

Migration Policy Institute, Controversial U.S. Title 42 Expulsions Policy Is Coming to an End, Bringing New Border Challenges, April 1, 2022

New York Times, Congressional Democrats roll out Biden’s immigration plan, offering an eight-year path to citizenship, Feb. 18, 2021

PolitiFact, JD Vance’s ad about ‘open border’ and immigrant voters is wrong, April 8, 2022

PolitiFact, Fact-checking Greg Abbott’s claims that Biden has ‘open border’ policies, April 26, 2022

Interview, Eduardo Gamarra, professor of Latin American studies, Florida International University, May 16, 2021


Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Jon Greenberg

Factchecking Arizona’s Blake Masters’ claim of open borders and Democratic amnesty plans

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up