Every week, immigration stories demonstrate how frustratingly elusive, even after decades, common-sense reform that would benefit immigrants and citizens alike remains.
A recent story sampling: sustained border surges and inadequate enforcement have pushed the immigration court backlog to an impossible-to-process 1 million-plus cases; illegal border crossings hit a 12-year high as Border Patrol agents detained 851,000 foreign nationals during fiscal year 2019, and a $1.5 billion Indian outsourcing firm, Mu Sigma, abused the rules that govern the B-1 visa but paid only a token fine, with its executives inexplicably avoiding criminal prosecution.
The B visa expressly denies work permission, but nine scheming Mu Sigma executives nevertheless helped set into motion about 400 jobs for individuals not employment authorized.
Once in a rare while, however, a story appears that restores hope. One such story is “Holder Reminds Fellow Dems that ‘Borders Mean Something.’”
Eric Holder, the former attorney general under President Barack Obama and now an adviser to the California Legislature, is committed to higher immigration levels, and to a comprehensive immigration reform amnesty. Few public officials have more disdain for President Donadl Trump than Holder.
Yet in a CNN interview with David Axelrod, Holder told his fellow Democrats, and especially the 2020 presidential candidates who support decriminalizing illegal crossings, that “borders do mean something.”
He also reminded the candidates that Obama had “robust” deportation totals as well, even higher than the Trump administration and that existing immigration laws have been on the books “for about 100 years,” and should be honored.
Holder even trotted out talking points normally associated with enforcement advocates.
Here are some he ticked off: Having a secure border, wanting to vet who comes to our nation and protecting the American people shouldn’t be a left versus right issue. Secure borders should be an issue everyone of us agrees on. We’re a nation of laws. People need to respect those laws, especially if they want to become U.S. citizens. Our government has an obligation to protect the American people first. And part of that protection means securing our borders, just as every other nation in the world does.
Former Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.; former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson; and former Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting director John Sandweg concurred with Holder about the folly of abolishing borders.
Other prominent Democrats have also sounded alarm bells about the potentially fatal — electorally speaking — empty promises to dissolve borders.
One of the most visible decriminalization critics is one-time Obama administration immigration policy adviser and previous National Council of La Raza, now UnidosUS, senior vice president Cecelia Muñoz. According to Muñoz, decriminalizing unapproved border crossings would make it harder for Democrats to combat Trump’s populist appeal.
Perhaps other Democratic candidates will emerge. But this particular group appears tone deaf to likely voters’ immigration sentiments, and they proceed at their own peril.
A June Gallup poll showed that a record high 23 percent named immigration as the public policy issue that most concerned them, the highest level since Gallup first mentioned immigration in 1993. About 35 percent of Americans want immigration decreased.
The more years that pass, the more likely that Americans will want less immigration. The Census Bureau projects that future net immigration, the difference between the number coming and number leaving, will total 46 million by 2060, and the total U.S. population will reach 404 million.
From 1990-2017, immigration grew the U.S. population by 43 million.
The current crop of Democratic presidential hopefuls doesn’t realize it, but an open borders platform is a loser.
— Joe Guzzardi is an analyst and researcher with Progressives for Immigration Reform who now lives in Pittsburgh. He can be reached at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter: @joeguzzardi19. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.