Justin Fareed at KEYT's congressional candidate debate in May 2018
Paul Wellman (file)

Republican Justin Fareed ― on the homestretch of his third race against Congressmember Salud Carbajal ― has launched a new public messaging campaign that attempts to paint his opponent as soft on crime and highlights offenses committed by undocumented Central Coast residents. Fareed’s latest TV ad states local “women have been raped and murders have been committed by people here unlawfully,” and in a series of tweets, he accuses Carbajal of failing to close legislative loopholes that let “violent, unlawful criminals rape, murder & attack the citizens of the Central Coast.” Fareed seizes specifically on the recent arrest of a Santa Maria Uber driver “here unlawfully” and accused of sexually assaulting multiple women in San Luis Obispo. “These crimes are happening right here & are happening more & more often,” he declares. “When Salud refuses to stand up for Immigration & Customs Enforcement agents he puts our families at risk.”

Fareed campaign spokesperson Austin Stukins insisted Fareed’s statements “are explicitly about crime and public safety. This is not an immigration issue.” Stukins said Carbajal’s legislative positions ― including his vote against Kate’s Law, which would enhance penalties for deported criminals who reenter the United States ― have made it harder for “law enforcement to catch bad guys and send them back home.” He invoked the murders of Marilyn Pharis and Iowa resident Mollie Tibbets at the hands of undocumented immigrants and cited the presence the MS-13 gang in Santa Barbara’s North County as “a clear and present threat to South Coast families.”

Carbjal’s camp and immigration activists have been quick to condemn Fareed’s messaging. “Fareed is taking a page right out of Trump’s playbook by choosing fear mongering and targeting immigrant communities over focusing on important issues for working families, like affordable healthcare and creating jobs here on the Central Coast,” said Carbajal spokesperson Tess Whittlesey. “This is simply hateful rhetoric with zero basis in fact to advance Trump’s cruel anti-immigrant agenda,” said CAUSE organizer Frank Rodriguez. “The immigrant community doesn’t deserve to be continually criminalized and dehumanized for political gain.

Whittlesey said while Carbajal “vehemently agrees violent criminals who are here unlawfully absolutely need to be prosecuted and deported,” the Kate’s Law bill would fail to accomplish that and instead also criminalize asylum-seekers. Whittlesey said Carbajal offered an amendment exempting asylum-seekers and human trafficking victims, but Republicans rejected it. Carbajal has also been working with Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley to secure federal grants to help prosecute MS-13 gang members, Whittlesey said. “And ironically, despite [Trump’s] rhetoric, the Trump Administration has not granted additional funding.”

This Tuesday, House speaker Paul Ryan personally lobbied on Fareed’s behalf. In an email to donors, Ryan said Fareed is in “a tough, but winnable election campaign,” and he described the former UCLA running back as “part of the next generation of Republican leaders” whose “knowledge and expertise” are needed in Congress. Fareed has so far raised $755,253 with $245,933 in cash on-hand. Carbajal has raised $2,212,576 with $1,564,266 in cash at his disposal.


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