Heritage Action leader highlights immigration as key factor in elections

Tim Chapman, executive director of conservative advocacy group Heritage Action, said Thursday that it’s a “no-brainer” that illegal immigrants should not be able to access the nation’s social benefits.

“When you drill down to really common sense things … I think when you look across all demographics, that’s a no-brainer,” Chapman told Hill.TV.

A number of Democratic presidential candidates have raised the possibility that undocumented immigrants should be given access to health benefits — something Republicans thing will hurt the other party in next year's elections. 

Chapman in the Hill.TV interview referenced a recent poll from his organization that found that immigration was the single biggest issue among 2020 voters of all democratic groups nationwide.

Among voters in 15 key congressional districts in states including California, Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania, 25 percent of rural voters and 21 percent of urban voters cited immigration as the most important issue facing the country today, according to the poll, released July 29. Regardless of gender or college degree status, voters still cited immigration as the most important issue ahead of 2020, according to the poll.

Chapman suggested the interest in immigration among voters could help Republicans win elections. 

But he also said some of Trump's rhetoric on the issue could hurt the party. 

“It’s not a helpful tone,” he said. “The tone is being dragged down by all the actors on the stage … But I am optimistic that we can get to a place soon as a conservative movement where we can start to put policies front and center.”

Trump and his administration have come under fire for its hard-line immigration policies, and the president has repeatedly garnered backlash for his rhetoric, telling four minority congresswomen — all of whom are U.S. citizens — that they should “go back” to where they came from.

“I can’t change the president’s rhetoric. But we can go out to communities across this country and tell people how various policies will impact them,” Chapman said.

—Jessie Campisi