Pittsburg Republican Rep. Jim Ryun has started running television ads here and elsewhere in the state's 2nd District, painting his Democratic challenger, Nancy Boyda, as favoring amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants already in the United States.
In his ad, Ryun says Boyda supports a pathway to citizenship that could result in 12 million illegal immigrants becoming eligible for welfare and Social Security benefits. The ad also states Boyda is opposed to new laws restricting immigration or tightening the border with Mexico, including building fences.
Boyda says she does not oppose those things, although she has previously made statements against building fences.
"Jim Ryun is trying to mislead voters because he hasn't done anything about immigration and because he's in a corner," Boyda said Monday. "Now we have a huge mess on our hands.
"I have never stood for amnesty."
Ryun defended the ad, saying Boyda is changing positions previously made on the radio and posted on her campaign Web site.
"When you flip-flop on the issues, the people of the 2nd District deserve to know where you stand," Ryun said.
Ryun visited with Border Patrol officials near Yuma, Ariz., on Thursday. He said the trip opened his eyes to the scope of the problem.
"That's why immigration is a big issue. Fences are an important part of this process. New laws are important," Ryun said. "Everything that I saw only confirmed that everything we're doing is a step in the right direction, because this is a national security issue."
Boyda said she agrees that the United States must get control of the border before addressing what to do with illegal immigrants already in the U.S.
"None of this really matters if we're not going to secure our borders and enforce our laws," she said.
Ryun said Boyda speaks of changes but has no plans of her own, which frustrates voters.
"She'll say one thing and then change after we put a commercial up," he said.
Boyda said she didn't disagree with more fencing, surveillance technology or agents along the border. However, she again raised the issue of a "NAFTA supercorridor" from Texas north to Canada that she claims is in the works and that she says would be a bigger threat to national security. Ryun and state highway officials have said there are no plans or funding for such a road through Kansas.