Chris Chmielenski's picture


  by  Chris Chmielenski

The Democratic Party approved its Party Platform during its national convention this week, and while some Democrats complained that it didn't go far enough in embracing a more open-borders agenda, there's not much to like for supporters of reduced immigration.

THE BAD -- Increased legal immigration, mass amnesty, and less enforcement

One line on the final page of the immigration section best sums up the Democratic Party position:

"Democrats believe in improving and increasing opportunities for legal, permanent immigration."

How do Democrats propose to increase legal, permanent immigration? The Platform calls for eliminating family-based backlogs, maintaining the visa lottery, and increasing the number of refugees and asylees.

  • "We support legislation to treat the spouses and children of green card holders as immediate relatives and end their unfair separation. We will eliminate family-based green card backlogs and reform the system to speed up family-based visas."
  • "[P]reserve the critical role of diversity preferences in our immigration system."
  • "[W]e will protect and expand the existing asylum system and other humanitarian protections."
  • "We will significantly raise the annual global refugee admissions target, and work with Congress to create a minimum annual number for refugee admissions..."

To no one's surprise, the Party supports a mass amnesty for most of the 11-18 million illegal aliens living in the United States. But it's always interesting to see who Democrats would prioritize. Obviously, "Dreamers" top the list, but the Platform also endorses Pres. Obama's DAPA amnesty for parents of U.S. citizen children that was terminated by the courts. The Party Platform also prioritizes an amnesty for farm workers.

  • "We will reinstate, expand, and streamline protections for Dreamers and the parents of American citizen children..."
  • "Democrats believe it is long past time to provide a roadmap to citizenship for the millions of undocumented workers, caregivers, students, and children..."
  • "We will fast-track this process for those workers who have been essential to the pandemic response and recovery efforts, including health care workers, farmworkers, and others."

As for enforcement, what's noticeable is what's not included. The 2016 Platform said about deportation:

"We should prioritize those who pose a threat to the safety of our communities.

That line, and anything like it, is missing from 2020, which means Democrats are no longer willing to offer explicit support for removing even the worst offenders. Instead, the Platform is a laundry list of ways Democrats would roll back enforcement.

Missing is any mention of E-Verify or worker authorization, or preventing visa overstays. In other words, the Democrats offer no plan for preventing future amnesties once they grant amnesty to the current illegal-alien population.


I can't say there's nothing hopeful in the 2020 Platform. Democrats do commit to going after unscrupulous employers, but it isn't clear if that includes enforcing laws against those who hire illegal workers:

"[W]e will hold employers accountable, promote workers' rights, and prioritize the enforcement of labor and employment laws across the economy..."

There are a few bad recommendations that I expected to see that are notably omitted.

First, there is no direct call for increasing employment-based green cards. Joe Biden's stated position calls for exempting foreign nationals with advanced degrees in STEM from existing caps. The Platform stops short of that, only saying: "We also support awarding visas for permanent, employment-based immigration in a way that is responsive to labor market needs."

Perhaps union-oriented delegates pushed back against Biden's promised gift to corporate lobbyists.

Second, the Platform does not call for an end to the 287(g) program that allows local law enforcement to voluntarily partner with federal immigration officers. It does say that Democrats will "end programs that force state and local law enforcement to also be responsible for immigration enforcement." That seems to be more of an endorsement for sanctuary policies than an attack on 287(g).


The Democratic Party and its presidential nominee, Joe Biden, now have three different sets of policy positions on immigration -- Biden's stated positions, the Democratic Party Platform, and the Biden-Sanders Unity Plan.

The three statements agree on the broader issues -- increasing legal immigration numbers, less enforcement, and mass amnesty. It's the smaller, more nuanced issues where there appears to be some disagreement. But that's understandable given the Democrats' need to win over moderates, especially in swing states and districts.

The keys to watch for between now and November are:

  1. How swing-district Democrats defend the Party's position of increased immigration and less enforcement, and
  2. How Biden addresses some of the areas of disagreement between the three policy statements when (and if) he's pressed to do so.

CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Deputy Director for NumbersUSA

Updated: Mon, Sep 7th 2020 @ 4:00pm EDT

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