A scant five years ago, current Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer co-authored what was dubbed the Gang of Eight immigration bill, which he described as the “toughest border security and enforcement measures in U.S. history.” This assurance was intended to convince the American public to accept an unpopular amnesty for some 12 million illegal aliens. Every Senate Democrat voted for that bill when it came to the floor.
The bill ultimately died in the House because the American public had very little faith that the “tough” border and enforcement provisions would ever be carried out and complete confidence that the amnesty would. Taking Congress’ word that this time would be different, that after the illegal aliens get their amnesty our nation’s immigration laws would actually be enforced, is a little like taking Lucy’s word that this time she won’t pull the football away as Charlie Brown tries to kick it.
Likewise, the Democratic Party, until fairly recently, was willing to pretend to support merit-based legal immigration. The Gang of Eight claimed their bill would move us toward a merit-based policy, as one of its selling points. It wouldn’t have – instead it would have left the current family chain system in place and just added some merit-based visas – but they were at least willing to pretend to fix a broken policy.
What a difference five years makes. When it comes to border security and immigration enforcement, the Democratic Party can’t even bring themselves to lie to the American people any more. They now openly reject the very concept that our immigration laws be enforced, and bristle at the suggestion that amnesty for illegal aliens be conditioned on anything that might slow down the next wave of illegal immigration, or reduce family chain migration.
Addressing a group of immigration activists in Texas, shortly before Democrats forced a three-day government shutdown, Rep. Keith Ellison, the Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee, vowed, “I will never, ever, ever, ever, vote for anything but a clean DREAM Act.” He didn’t, and neither did the majority of congressional Democrats – until they discovered that the American public did not share their overriding passion for a massive unconditional amnesty.
Scrapping the nepotistic family chain migration policy is now similarly disparaged by leading Democrats. Schumer denounced President Trump’s (overly-generous) offer of amnesty to 1.8 million illegal aliens in exchange for less funding for border security than his own Gang of Eight bill offered, and an end to family chain migration (which would not really kick-in for about another ten years) as “a tool to tear apart our legal immigration system and adopt the wish list that anti-immigration hardliners have advocated for for years.”
Schumer’s rejection of the president’s offer was one of the kinder denunciations of the White House framework. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), which is generally considered as one of the mainstream immigration lobby groups that has close ties to the Democratic Party, suggested that the plan “be swiftly dispatched to the nativist/white nationalist sewer where it rightly belongs.”
The folks at the DNC are still scratching their heads wondering why they are not connecting with voters outside of Berkeley and the West Side of Manhattan. But that’s their problem, not ours.
A recent Harvard-Harris poll indicates that Americans across the political spectrum and across racial and ethnic lines support not just the enforcement and legal immigration reforms that were included in the Trump framework, but many other “pillars” of immigration reform that the author of The Art of the Deal preemptively surrendered before he sat down at the negotiating table. These jettisoned provisions include mandatory E-Verify, ending dangerous sanctuary policies and other measures.
The president’s watered down framework did succeed in one respect. It forced the 2018 Democratic Party to show its hand. It is unquestionably, undoubtedly, and unambiguously the party of open borders and immigration on-demand. No more lip service to enforcement and the national interest.
With no counterpart with whom to strike a “down the middle compromise,” as the president called for in his State of the Union address, the White House and congressional Republicans have really only one option: Pass a truly effective enforcement and legal immigration overhaul bill in the House, that includes all of the provisions supported by the American people, and send it over to the Senate. Schumer probably has the votes needed to block it in the Senate, but at least every member of Congress will have to stand up and be counted and explain their votes to the folks back home.
Sometimes you do get second chances in life. The president and the GOP leadership have one right now.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.