Jeremy Beck's picture


  by  Jeremy Beck

After the 2016 election, the theory (widespread after 2012) that demographic destiny would force the GOP to embrace large-scale legalization and immigration expansion has fizzled. The Republican Party and President Trump continue to have internal debates about immigration policy, but they are no longer alone. Pundits and reporters from the center left and beyond are looking at the Democratic Party's "immigration problem" with renewed urgency.

Below are some selections.

President Obama, Rolling Stone interview, November 9, 2016:

"It's going to be important for Democrats and immigration-rights activists to recognize that for the majority of the American people, borders mean something."

New York Times, November 9, 2016:

"....The returns Tuesday also amounted to a historic rebuke of the Democratic Party from the white blue-collar voters who had formed the party base from the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt to Mr. Clinton’s....But not until these voters were offered a Republican who ran as an unapologetic populist, railing against foreign trade deals and illegal immigration, did they move so drastically away from their ancestral political home...."

Patrick Thibodeau, Computerworld, November 9, 2016:

"For nearly 25 years, IT workers have been complaining of training their foreign replacements and the anger had indeed gone viral. Trump used that, Clinton did not."

Thomas Edsall, New York Times, September 29, 2016:

"...the costs of liberal immigration policies are borne most heavily by two key Democratic constituencies. Both are current targets of voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives: recent immigrants to this county and all workers without high school degrees, a group that is majority minority, 29.5 percent African-American and 35.2 percent Hispanic."

Thomas Edsall, New York Times, February 16, 2017:

"A detailed analysis of exit polls in four key states that helped deliver the election to Donald Trump -- Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin -- produced interesting findings not only about Hispanics, but also African-Americans -- who are less supportive of liberal immigration policies than other core Democratic constituencies -- and whites. In each of these states, opposition to immigration was higher than the national average."

Josh Barro, Business Insider, February 7, 2017:

"In recent years, Democrats have come to talk about deportation in the same wrongheaded way Occupy Wall Street activists talked about foreclosure: as a horrible, heartless thing to do, rather than a sometimes regrettably necessary action in nation of laws....

"....Immigration reform is supposed to be a trade: amnesty for unauthorized immigrants and high future levels of legal immigration, in exchange for stringent enforcement of immigration laws in the future.

"But why would anyone believe that Democrats or pre-Trump Republicans would follow through on a promise to enforce immigration law effectively? Even Trump has not (yet) made workplace enforcement a priority.

"Immigration reform is an example of no-choice politics, and Trump's election was part of voters' global revolt against the insistence that they accept policy choices that are foisted upon them through path dependence orchestrated by political elites."

Peter Skerry, Professor of Political Science at Boston College, Boston Globe, April 16, 2017 :

"While liberals and progressives have stopped short of endorsing open borders, they’ve come to treat opposition to illegal immigration and constraints on illegal immigration as unacceptable, even racist....

"....Trump, no doubt, played to racial sentiments. But he also saw something his opponents didn’t: that even if Democrats refuse to acknowledge some of the complexities of immigration, many voters still see a need for limits."

David Leonhardt, New York Times, May 2, 2017:

"I've started to wonder whether my views on immigration are too liberal. I've long been a passionate believer in the benefits of immigration to the United States. That belief remains firm.

"But I have also come to appreciate some of the conservative arguments in favor of reduced immigration among less-skilled workers. In particular, the slowdown of immigration in the mid-20th century seems to have brought significant benefits to the immigrants who had previously arrived in this country. That slowdown allowed them to climb the economic ladder while facing less competition. Shifting today’s mix toward higher-skilled immigrants may be one small way to combat inequality."

New York Times, May 8, 2017:

"The failure of the sanctuary bills in Maryland reveals a potentially troublesome fissure for Democrats as they rush to defy Mr. Trump. Their party has staked out an activist position built around protecting undocumented immigrants. But it is one that has alienated many who might have been expected to support it."

T.A. Frank, Vanity Fair, May 24, 2017:

"As for immigration, most Democrats were once far less tolerant of illegal border crossings and far more honest about the costs of the uncontrolled borders. In 1993, Harry Reid gave a long speech condemning U.S. immigration policy for failing to serve the American interest. In 1994, when running for the Senate, Dianne Feinstein aired Trumpian TV spots calling out the problem of illegal immigration. And let's recall who warned that a "huge influx of mostly low-skill workers" was threatening to "depress further the wages of blue-collar Americans and put strains on an already overburdened safety net": none other than our 44th president, Barack Obama."

Camille Paglia (Democrat who voted for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary and for Jill Stein in the general election), Weekly Standard, June 15, 2017:

"After Trump's victory (for which there were abundant signs in the preceding months), both the Democratic party and the big-city media urgently needed to do a scathingly honest self-analysis, because the election results plainly demonstrated that Trump was speaking to vital concerns (jobs, immigration, and terrorism among them) for which the Democrats had few concrete solutions."

Peter Beinart, The Atlantic, July/August, 2017:

"In 2006, [New York Times columnist Paul] Krugman wrote that America was experiencing 'large increases in the number of low-skill workers relative to other inputs into production, so it’s inevitable that this means a fall in wages.'

"It’s hard to imagine a prominent liberal columnist writing that sentence today. To the contrary, progressive commentators now routinely claim that there’s a near-consensus among economists on immigration’s benefits.

"There isn’t. According to a comprehensive new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 'Groups comparable to … immigrants in terms of their skill may experience a wage reduction as a result of immigration-induced increases in labor supply.' But academics sometimes de-emphasize this wage reduction because, like liberal journalists and politicians, they face pressures to support immigration."

JEREMY BECK is the Director of the Media Standards Project for NumbersUSA

2016 presidential election

Updated: Wed, Oct 11th 2017 @ 3:38pm EDT

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