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Fact Check: Fact-checking Catherine Cortez Masto and Adam Laxalt in Nevada Senate race

The outcome of Nevada’s U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Republican Adam Laxalt could determine which party controls the Senate. 

Cortez Masto, the first Latina to serve in the Senate, was the state’s attorney general from 2007 to 2015. Laxalt, endorsed by former President Donald Trump, served as Nevada’s attorney general from 2015 to 2019.  

Laxalt and Cortez Masto have attacked each other on their records as attorney general.

Laxalt and Republican allies have also continuously criticized President Joe Biden and Cortez Masto on the rise of migrant encounters at the southern U.S. border. Cortez Masto and Democratic groups have focused on abortion issues after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.  

Here are some key claims we fact-checked from Nevada’s Senate candidates and groups backing their election.

Catherine Cortez Masto: Adam Laxalt is “anti-DACA” and “fought against the protections for DACA recipients when he was attorney general.”

This is Half True.

In 2018, Laxalt joined 24 other attorneys general who sued to keep President Barack Obama’s administration from expanding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and creating a new program that would benefit parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. The lawsuit did not seek to revoke protections for the program’s beneficiaries, but did aim to restrict more people from benefiting. 

Adam Laxalt: “Biden and Democrats have dismantled border security.”

This is False.

The number of migrant encounters at the southern border have reached historic highs. However, funding for U.S. Customs and Border Protection has remained consistent under the Biden administration compared with under Trump. Border laws and policies to prevent immigrants from remaining in the U.S. continue to be enforced under Biden. 

Biden stopped building additional miles of barriers at the southern border; but he did not order the dismantling of existing barriers. His administration has used previously appropriated funds to repair barriers and close gaps often used by migrants who are trying to enter the U.S. 

Cortez Masto: Laxalt said it is “good news” that “a lot of those Hispanic small businesses never reopened” after the pandemic.

This is False.

In an ad, Cortez Masto used a clip of an interview in which Laxalt — speaking about the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic — said, “I think the good news is that now we’re a year, a lot of those jobs never came back, a lot of those Hispanic small businesses never reopened.” 

A review of the full audio shows Laxalt was saying it was “good news” that voters would blame Democratic leaders — not Trump — for the lost jobs and closed businesses. 

Laxalt: The public health order Title 42 is “the last tool Border Patrol has to stop the overwhelming flood of illegal immigrants pouring into our country.”

This is False.

Title 42 is a public health policy intended to limit migration into the United States to mitigate COVID-19’s spread. It is not an immigration enforcement tool. Even if Title 42 is revoked, Border Patrol can use expedited removals, physical barriers and legal consequences for repeated crossers to prevent illegal immigration into the United States.

Cortez Masto: Laxalt “supports eliminating Nevada’s protections for legal abortions.”

This is Half True.

Laxalt has said abortion rights in Nevada are settled law. The state allows abortion through 24 weeks of pregnancy and after that point if it is to preserve the woman’s life or health. 

Before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, Laxalt said it would be a “​​historic victory for the sanctity of life.” He has expressed support for a referendum that would ask Nevada voters about restricting access to abortions in the state.

Club for Growth Action: Cortez Masto “was the deciding vote” to send COVID-19 stimulus checks to more than 1 million prisoners.

This is Mostly False.

The Senate passed three bills on stimulus checks, prisoners qualified for the payments because of broad eligibility rules. A vote to exclude inmates was held only for the third round of checks. 

Cortez Masto was one of 50 senators who voted against the amendment. But describing hers as the “deciding vote” suggests Cortez Masto had some extraordinarily pivotal role, and that’s not so.

Cortez Masto: Laxalt took “campaign cash” from drug companies “and used his office to block local attempts at holding one of the worst offenders accountable.”

This is Mostly False.

Laxalt received more than $20,000 from drug companies between 2014 and 2018. In late 2018, he discouraged Reno’s mayor from suing drug manufacturers. But he did not “block” the effort; he said he worried the city’s action could undermine an investigation by a multistate coalition that included Nevada. Separately, Nevada sued Purdue Pharma, alleging deceptive practices. 

Reno ultimately sued the opioid companies, a move Laxalt supported. 

Club for Growth: As attorney general, Cortez Masto “opposed tougher laws on methamphetamine dealers.”

That’s Mostly False.

Cortez Masto chaired a working group on meth use that opposed two Nevada Assembly bills seeking to increase penalties for meth possession. The opposition came after law enforcement officials told legislators that the bills would likely criminalize meth users rather than go after drug dealers. 

The group led by Cortez Masto also supported other bills and initiatives intended to mitigate  Nevada’s meth crisis. Cortez Masto also opposed reducing sentences for immigrants in the country illegally convicted of meth trafficking.

RELATED: Catherine Cortez Masto’s record on the Truth-O-Meter

RELATED: Adam Laxalt’s record on the Truth-O-Meter

RELATED: All our fact-checks about Nevada

Source: PolitiFact.