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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 4:57 pm | Fair 65º


Salud Carbajal and Justin Fareed Debate Immigration, Sanctuary Policies, Abortion and Donald Trump

In home stretch of Nov. 6 election, congressional candidates face off at KEYT News forum

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Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, right, and Republican challenger Justin Fareed squared off at a Sunday night candidates forum hosted by KEYT News in Santa Barbara. (Jacob Molina / Noozhawk photo)

At a Sunday night candidates forum broadcast live on KEYT News, freshman Rep. Salud Carbajal attempted to portray himself as a bipartisan leader in Congress, while opponent Justin Fareed accused him of voting in lockstep with the Democratic Party instead of on behalf of local residents.

Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, is seeking re-election to the 24th Congressional District seat he won for the first time in 2016. Fareed, a Republican, is running for the seat for the third election in a row.

With the Nov. 6 election fast approaching, the candidates answered questions about a wide range of topics, from illegal immigration and sanctuary states to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and the apparent murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi agents in the country’s embassy in Turkey.

Carbajal said he opposes a merit-based system of accepting immigrants into the country.

“I think if you look at merit-based, merit-based was the old way of looking at things,” he said. “Merit-based looked at rewarding those with higher means that could only come to this country, and I think when you look at comprehensive immigration reform and looking at a different approach really allows people from all countries to come to this country.

“I think you have heard this (President Donald Trump’s) admininstration preferring immigrants from certain European countries over other countries, and I think a merit-based approach falls right victim into that.”

Fareed said Carbajal and other politicians have sidestepped the issue by putting politics ahead of people.

“We have been hearing that for a generation and we have not seen actual solutions,” he said. “Ultimately we have to have political leaders with the political will and the backbone to do what’s right for the future of this country.”

Carbajal did not specifically answer the question of whether he supported California’s sanctuary state status, which exempts local law enforcement from cooperating with immigration authorities.

“This administration has come after individuals that are here trying to make a living, trying to contribute to our economy,” he said. “They have separated children from their families, their parents, not only at the border, but throughout our communities.

“I believe that states and local governments have tried to do their best to protect local residents, but what we need is actually comprehensive immigration reform. That will address most, if not all, of our immigration challenges.”

When journalist Jerry Roberts, one of the panel’s moderators and host of the local public-access TV show Newsmakers, asked Carbajal if he specifically supports the state law, the lawmaker responded: “I support laws that fix our broken immigration system, permanently.”

“You ask a question three times, you don’t get an answer, you give up,” Roberts responded.

Fareed — who called the law “a bad and misguided policy” — jumped in.

“I think the answer is clear,” he said. “My opponent does support the sanctuary state policy.”

Both candidates said they did not support reopening Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion. They each described abortion as a matter of settled law.

Still, Carbajal seized the moment to paint Fareed in an unflattering light.

“If you accept money from a PAC whose mission it is to overturn Roe vs. Wade and to take women’s rights away from choosing their own reproductive health care and future over their bodies, I think that speaks for itself,” he said.

“I am proud to have the support of Planned Parenthood for all the work that I have done to promote a woman’s right to chose.”

Carbajal was asked to offer one compliment of Trump, and Fareed was asked to offer one criticism.

“I think President Trump and Vice President (Mike) Pence stepped up when we had our disaster on the Central Coast,” Carbajal said. “I give high marks to this president for stepping up, not playing politics with our disasters here in California, at least here on the Central Coast.”

Fareed’s criticism focused on Trump’s focus.

“Certainly with this president there are a lot of things that he tweets and does that I wish he wouldn’t,” he said. “With leadership in this country it is important that we have folks who have the ability to bring certainty to situations, and that is really important.”

On the Khashoggi killing, Fareed said, “if the allegations are true,” the United States must be “firm” with Saudi Arabia, which admitted over the weekend that Khashoggi, a frequent critic of the regime, had been murdered.

Carbajal said Trump’s response to the killing was wrong, noting that he also praised a lawmaker who assaulted a journalist.

“That is not the message we want to send, both domestically and internationally,” he said.

Carbajal said the United States should suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia and stop collaborating with the country on its war with Yemen, where a humanitarian crisis is escalating.

“This is something we should not allow,” he said. “We should speak boldy and we should take a harsher action than we have taken.”

The forum was moderated by Roberts, KEYT News anchor C.J. Ward, Santa Maria Times reporter Gina Kim and Noozhawk political writer Joshua Molina.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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