Top Democrat in tight Senate race backs citizenship, voting rights for millions of illegal immigrants

The Democrat frontrunner in what could be one of the most unexpectedly tight Senate races this year recently declared his support for granting citizenship and voting rights to the millions of illegal immigrants residing in the U.S.

Speaking at a candidate forum in Bladensburg, Maryland, earlier this month, Rep. David Trone, who represents the state’s 6th Congressional District, argued illegal immigrants should have the same rights under the Constitution as U.S. citizens.

“We need to welcome all 12 million folks here now that are DACA, TPS, and undocumented – make them citizens, and move forward. They have all the rights everybody here should have also,” Trone said, referencing Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA), also known as “Dreamers,” who were brought to the U.S. as children by illegal immigrant parents, as well as migrants granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

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Two men scale a fence at the U.S. southern border near El Paso, Texas, on March 15, 2024, and Rep. David Trone, a Democrat candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland. (Getty Images)

Just days after the forum, Trone voted against the bipartisan Laken Riley Act, a bill named after a nursing student who was tragically murdered on the campus of the University of Georgia while jogging. Jose Antonio Ibarra, the illegal immigrant from Venezuela charged in the murder, was arrested in New York prior to the murder but was not detained by ICE. He was also cited in Georgia for misdemeanor shoplifting in October 2023. 

The bill would require U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to arrest illegal immigrants who commit theft, burglary, larceny or shoplifting offenses and mandate that those who commit such crimes are detained until they are removed from the U.S., so they cannot break the same law or commit further crimes.

Additionally, the bill would ensure that states have standing to bring civil actions against federal officials who refuse to enforce immigration law or who violate the law. It passed the House in a 251-170 vote, and the Senate is currently considering its version of the legislation.

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Laken Riley smiles wearing a brown top

Laken Riley, a nursing student, was found dead near a lake on the University of Georgia campus on Feb. 22. An illegal immigrant has been charged with her murder. (Laken Riley/Facebook)

Last month, Trone signed a letter urging impeached Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to close illegal immigrant detention centers just one day after a toddler was allegedly murdered by an illegal immigrant right outside his district, the Daily Caller reported.

“Our immigration system is broken. Unfortunately, positive legislative reforms in immigration are unlikely this congress due to extreme MAGA Republican opposition. Until that changes, we must do our best to operate within the current system to ensure that we are treating immigrants with dignity and utilizing our limited resources wisely. You have testified regarding your concern about ‘the overuse of detention… where alternatives to detention would suffice.’ We share that concern,” Trone wrote in the letter.

Fox News Digital has reached out to Trone’s campaign for comment.

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Trone Maryland

Rep. David Trone during a roundtable discussion in Rockville, Maryland, on Dec. 9, 2023. (Graeme Sloan/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Trone faces a crowded Democrat primary field, where he holds a massive fundraising and polling advantage. His closest challenger is Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks.

He will likely face Maryland’s former Republican governor, Larry Hogan, in the general election. Few polls have been conducted on the race so far, but those that have been completed suggest a neck-and-neck race between the two.

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Elections analysts rate the race as “likely” Democrat, but Hogan’s name recognition and high approval rating at the conclusion of his second term last year could further pose a challenge to Democrats’ hopes of maintaining control of the Senate.

Fox News’ Kyle Morris contributed to this report.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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