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Opposing Trump on Border Security Hurts Democrats Too

Trump gets much wrong on immigration. But he is right about securing the border. Democrats should give Trump his funding.

President Trump has me flummoxed once again. He has cajoled, threatened, tweeted, and bellowed about how America needs border security since he descended the golden escalator four years ago. Democrats should give him more border security, because it’s one thing Trump gets right.

Remember the famous Boston Globe fake front page screaming “Deportations to Begin,” published in April, 2016, seven months before Trump–incredibly–won the White House?

Screenshot of Boston Globe front page from April 2016, courtesy of the Washington Post

Now the president has delayed the massive ICE operation to begin deportations for two weeks, purportedly to give Democrats time to offer more to beef up the latest immigration bills winding their way through both houses of Congress. Neither the Democrats’ or the Republicans’ bill is particularly useful or good, in the long view, as Congressman Chip Roy explained on Twitter.

Democrats: Trump can do no right.

To Democrats, Trump can do no right, even if he does exactly what his predecessor did. But Obama and the open border crowd has a fundamentally different view of the purpose of American immigration than Trump. Even if the two sides carry out policies the same way, their viewpoints appear to be diametrically opposed.

As always it’s more complex than it appears. One view is that all asylum seekers or migrants in search of work, with children in tow, should be admitted to the United States, with a path to full citizenship, and given over to relatives, churches, or other organizations. The other view is that the (southern) border should be all but closed, except to valid visa-holders, and others, within our immigration laws, who deserve to come in.

Neither of these views is correct, and both are straw men ripe for burning by candidates in search of votes, or organizations in search of funds. Let’s deal with the Trumpian view first.

This should not even be controversial: It’s inhumane to arrest every asylum seeker who sneaks over our border and turns up on U.S. soil, and house them in squalor. This was proven over and over again since the Mariel boatlift. In fact, it led to the creation of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which became President Obama’s front-line troops in his DACA effort. Obama purposefully sought to overwhelm the government’s ability to absorb refugees, so that an obstinate Republican Congress might give up and pass the DREAM Act (in its various forms).

In this pursuit, Obama managed to create a domestic land army rivaling many police states. I wrote this in 2014 at RedState.

A president who acts in defiance of all laws he doesn’t like, a Border Patrol that’s not allowed to patrol the border, a Department of Homeland Security that implements disastrous and illegal policies like DACA, and now, HHS and ORR dutifully placing these children as “refugees” wherever the wind carries. These agencies have hundreds of armed officers, and the DHS possesses what amounts to a standing army on our soil.

If this isn’t the road to tyranny, then it’s snowing in Hell.

Now the very people who supported what Obama did in 2010-2014 are chanting “concentration camps!” The ORR under Trump is doing exactly what it did under Obama.

One of the main things Trump has wrong is continuing to do what Obama did. Allowing our immigration system to be overwhelmed is what led to DACA in the first place. Now Democrats, and some Republicans, are calling for a renewed DREAM Act. But Democrats won’t give even one inch to secure the southern border.

Trump is also wrong in treating immigration as a problem for America’s neighbors. President Ronald Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. At the signing, he said, “The problem of illegal immigration should not, therefore, be seen as a problem between the United States and its neighbors. Our objective is only to establish a reasonable, fair, orderly, and secure system of immigration into this country and not to discriminate in any way against particular nations or people.”

From the beginning, Trump has made immigration about Mexico, the Middle East, and places he called “sh*thole countries” versus the United States. The “America First” lens does not allow us to see America as a land of opportunity to the world. It makes an America hoarding resources for those who are lucky enough to live here. That’s never been the point of our immigration policies, nor should it be.

Therefore the objectives of Trump’s immigration priorities are simply wrong. It leads to yielding economic and diplomatic advantages in our own hemisphere to our true adversaries like China. Trump’s implementation of Obama-era policies in dealing with the problem are also wrong, as they fail to address the core problem DACA has caused while throwing red meat to the relatively small number of true xenophobes and actual racists in the Republican/Trumpian tent.

This allows Democrats to frame the debate and paint all Republicans as if we were racists and xenophobes. It leads to absurd treatment of actual concern for other human beings like this tweet exchange:

We don’t “feign” concern for children without proper care in U.S. custody. But we shouldn’t want to empty the camps by simply releasing everyone to come in without any border security.

Republicans also know that businesses–large and small–depend on the uninterrupted flow of labor and goods across the Mexican border. Which is more efficient: a secure barrier with many large-scale crossings; or, a few fortified super-scale crossings with enormous gaps between that must be constantly patrolled, with busload after busload of migrants transported to holding areas?

The current situation is unsustainable and Democrats, cynically and with cold political calculus, know it.

Trump gets border security right.

Trump is absolutely right about the dire need to secure our southern border, and the need to place security first as the highest priority in dealing with global threats entering our borders.

Reagan gave the correct priorities at his signing ceremony in 1986.

Future generations of Americans will be thankful for our efforts to humanely regain control of our borders and thereby preserve the value of one of the most sacred possessions of our people: American citizenship.

But that hasn’t happened.

Instead, politics and cynical demographic predictions have reigned. Democrats believe they own the Latino vote, and therefore increasing the number of eligible Latino voters makes sense to them; why would they want to limit the number entering the U.S.? This is the primary reason only Democrat-run cities have become “sanctuary cities.” Let them in, keep them in America and eventually, inevitably, they will become voting citizens. The Democrats feel entitled to these votes.

Republicans are also loathe to appear too tough on immigration, lest they lose Latino citizens’ votes who otherwise would be, on social and economic issues, repelled by the Democratic platform. But Trump is proving them wrong.

But the belief in demographic destiny is dead among Florida Democrats, crushed in November by victorious Trump-backed candidates who more than reversed his 2016 losses among Sunshine State Hispanics. In races decided by the thinnest of margins, Florida’s Hispanic voters swung back to the right just enough to deliver wins to two of Trump’s top allies, keeping the governorship in conservative hands and turning over a Democratic U.S. Senate seat to the Republicans.

Democrats fear Trump, Republicans are making inroads with Hispanic voters in Florida, Miami Herald, June 20, 2019

Many Latinos see Trump’s appeal: those who are put off by the Democrats descent into socialism–which many in the Cuban exile community fled for their very lives. Also, many Latinos who legally entered the country feel that the border should be secure.

We should secure the southern border. There is a lawless culture of death and gang-fueled violence in parts of Mexico close to our border. MS-13 is real, and operates on both sides of the border. Migrants seeking entry into the U.S. come from as far away as Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in central Africa. They have ended up in places like Portland, Maine.

“The surge has prompted Portland to turn its basketball arena into an emergency shelter and depleted assistance funds meant for other groups,” the New York Times reported. “Officials in both cities have had to reassure the public that fears of an Ebola outbreak were unfounded while also pleading for volunteer interpreters who speak French and Portuguese.”

Democrats would rather oppose a border wall and increased Border Patrol presence because they think it hurts Trump. But it hurts them too.


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