President Joe Biden seems to have decided that the best way to position Democrats on immigration is to go on offense and run to the right of MAGA.
Being on offense? I approve. Trying to flank MAGA and Trump on to the right? I doubt it will work.
The Senate bipartisan compromise bill’s (analysis of bill at link) failure to garner the support of MAGAs in the House and Senate – due to Trump’s stated desire to preserve the immigration issue for the Presidential general election – seems to have landed Democrats in the position of running on immigration by casting Republicans as the ones loath to do anything to address the so-called ‘crisis‘ (my opinion of which is noted in previous posts).
The Lincoln Project (not the President’s campaign) recently dropped this ad as an example of how to do such messaging:
And President Biden has made it very clear that he is going on the offensive against Trump and his Trumpanzees on their failure to support Senator Lankford’s (R – OK) negotiated compromise Senate bill:
Of course, the fact that Senator Sinema (I – AZ) was a key member of the negotiation for the Senate compromise with James Lankford and Chris Murphy (D – CT), sets up a possible basis on which Sinema can run for re-election in Arizona: as an immigration hawk. Ruben Gallego has previously indicated he would have voted YES on the Senate compromise in the House, but has also described the bill, thusly:
“This bill is the closest answer that we can get right now. It’s not ideal. I wish it had been sooner. I wish there was elements of immigration reform. But at the same time, we are dealing in divided government, and you have to compromise. And I think this is an adequate compromise that answers the needs of Arizonans and our border communities.”Lauren Gilger, KJAZZ.org, quoting Rep. Gallego
Not exactly glowing support for the contents of the compromise legislation.
Sinema recently took to the floor of the Senate to deliver her remarks in support of the compromise legislation, seeming to position herself to the right of the MAGA supporters of the utterly draconian and immigration-policy-reforms-free H.R.2 – which MAGA has been promoting as their ‘solution’ to the so-called ‘crisis’.
So, after Sinema’s full-bore embrace of border alarmist rhetoric here, and her critique of border photo ops in the above speech at about 10 minutes, I guess the many photos of Sinema parading around at the border – like this one – are… what?.. ironic?
Having read both bills, I can tell you that both bills wholly abrogate the integrity and fairness of our asylum process and continue to under-resource the asylum system, and both fail to reform any aspect of the present immigration system in favor of theatrical overreactions and buzzwords (like ‘shutting down’ or ‘closing’ the border, which haven’t any real meaning except potential financial, legal, and trade relations suicide…). As a response to the propaganda and hysteria spread by MAGA based on the recent modest increases in border activity relative to historical trends, such positions are merely capitulations to MAGA’s least indecent and harmful ideas, not a useful or thoughtful alternative.
If Democrats (and maybe a former Democrat turned Independent) are going to campaign on screwing asylum seekers out of any true due process and rhetoric about ‘shutting down’ the border, haven’t the GOP and MAGA already won the issue? Instead of being the adults in the room and doing our best to debunk the Right’s propaganda and xenophobic rhetoric and presenting real solutions to the decades-old and ongoing failure of our immigration system and policies to keep up with the reality of current trends in immigration to the United States, we seem set to simply attempt to outflank MAGA in how effectively cruel and hawkish we can pretend to be.
Personally, I don’t think it will work. We are certainly not going to outdo MAGA bigots like Texas Governor Abbott and Donald Trump in terms of performative cruelty and the humiliation and dehumanization of immigrants. We should be trying to communicate the facts to swing voters proving that the border is more secure, orderly, and humane when run by Democrats. Simply coopting the least offensive aspects of the Right’s policies is an experiment in political triangulation that we have tried before. The result has always been the adoption of terrible policies and still getting whipped on the subject in the public’s estimation because we can never outmaneuver the enemy on their own rhetorical home ground.
What I am seeing emerging here is a massive self-own. Democrats should instead put forth a new bill in the Senate that lays down an uncompromising marker for a complete overhaul of the immigration and asylum systems and providing border security to meet the challenges and opportunities that immigration presents to America and run on that as a statement of our values and priorities on immigration. We can use this issue to demonstrate the need for political reforms so that widely shared American values can be effectively turned into policy, which eludes our political system on so many issues, including abortion, gun control, and much else. We can highlight to voters that immigration is a vast opportunity to strengthen America’s economy and demographics far into the future, while supporting our national security, beating down organized crime, and decreasing crime rates nationally. We can effectively contrast with the truly dystopian nightmare of mass deportations and widespread human rights violations that Trump is openly planning for any return to the White House. Unless we truly present Americans with an alternative to – instead of a weak echo of – MAGA’s racist and bigoted agenda of fear, how can we possibly expect to win this issue?