She is the “blank verse” of the Republican Party. She’s on her own. She supported the “impeachment” process against Donald Trump and, from that moment, if not before, she became the “number one enemy” of the former president. She is arguably one of the national political figures in the United States most disliked by the most conservative Republicans and most respected by the Democrats. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is the daughter of Frank Murkowski, another prestigious Alaskan politician. She is in favor of respectful and humane treatment of immigrants and BIPOC communities, and against a Constitutional Convention to amend the Alaska Constitution.
Considering the crisis in the labor shortage in the US in all areas of our economy, where do you stand on immigration reform?
The Biden administration has a failed policy on immigration with mixed messaging and questionable decisions which have contributed to the unprecedented numbers of immigrants pouring across America’s southern border. Those who wish to come to our country legally and follow our laws are welcome, but our laws must be respected, and border security must be a top priority. We need a functional immigration system that can help ensure our economy and industries do not suffer from worker shortages. I believe that migrants must be treated humanely, and that we must help address the root causes of their migration. For those who were brought to the United States as children, I support a path toward citizenship through military service or pursuit of higher education.
Wouldn’t the US benefit from a temporary program allowing immigrants to come and work until the economy gets back on track?
We have programs that should be meeting this need. Unfortunately, political gridlock prevents them from functioning. The H-2B program pairs willing workers with U.S. companies in non-agricultural sectors like fisheries and tourism that are unable to fill jobs here at home.
Seasonal workers can legally take advantage of economic opportunities here in the U.S. before rejoining their families in their country of origin. Arbitrary caps on the number of H-2B visas, poorly timed supplemental visa releases, and bureaucratic roadblocks at every step of the process conspire to make this crucial program nearly unusable for Alaska businesses.
I have taken every opportunity to educate the Biden administration on what makes Alaska different. I secured the first-ever supplemental release of visas in the first half of Fiscal Year 2022 to ensure workers could join the slime lines in our winter fisheries. I championed a yearly appropriations provision that allows the program to continue and am working closely with colleagues in Congress to find a permanent legislative fix. The fish won’t wait for the agencies to get their act together and neither will Alaska’s visitors. It shouldn’t require a nationwide workforce shortage to bring agencies to the table to help Alaska’s businesses, and I will keep them at the table until the U.S. visa programs work for Alaska.
What do you think you can offer to improve the Alaskan standard of living that the other candidates are not considering?
There is a lot at stake for Alaska in this election, and I believe my record of results for Alaskans -on infrastructure, on project funding, on resource development, and in so many other areas– stands apart.
In this time of worsening partisan and geopolitical conflict, many leaders don’t seem willing to recognize or address the forces that are trying to tear us apart. They buy into it, and add to it, further polarizing us. We need to elect individuals who are committed to bringing people together and solving problems by working across party lines. My commitment is to do just that, working for all Alaskans. And I believe that commitment, along with my seniority and track record of following through on it, make me the best candidate in this race.
I would be honored to earn your vote so that I can continue serving you and the state we love.
Where do the BIPOC communities fit in your priorities?
The BIPOC communities are absolutely a priority for me. I view it as my responsibility to do everything I can, as a Senator, to help BIPOC communities feel safe, seen, and heard. No law is perfect. No policy is perfect. No process is perfect. But you have my commitment that I will continue working with BIPOC communities in Alaska, and representing every Alaskans, always.
One of Alaska’s greatest strengths is our diversity. We have a unique model in Alaska, allowing tribal governments, ANCs, and tribal nonprofits to contribute to the economic and social well-being of our entire state. Strong partnerships between tribes, Alaska Native Corporations (ANC), cities, and the State are critical in every area, and I continuously work to strengthen them. I steadfastly supported ANCs through the Chehalis litigation and filed an amicus brief to the US Supreme Court to ensure our ANCs the ability to receive federal support.
Recently, I partnered with the Alaska Municipal League and the Alaska Federation of Natives for my second Infrastructure Grant Symposium. If you look at housing, broadband, transportation, sanitation –the tribal entities, cities, and the State have substantial resources. Securing tribal funding, which I have done through the infrastructure law, CARES Act, and more enhances Alaska across the board.
None of this would have been possible without the strong support and partnership of leaders from our communities. Our strong and vibrant people form the foundation of our state, and I am proud of the value and cultures they bring to our communities.
Are you in favor or against an Alaskan Constitutional Convention? And if you are in favor, give your reasons.
No. There are far more prudent, cost-effective ways to change Alaska’s Constitution – if Alaskans want to – than a convention. Alaskans have overwhelmingly rejected this question every 10 years since statehood, and this year should be no different.