Democrats Should Beat Up Trump Over Immigration

Andrew Sullivan says Democrats are blowing it on immigration:

They seem unable to attack Trump for his colossal failure in his core campaign pledge. The ads write themselves. Obama kept illegal immigration to consistent lows, using existing law. Trump is presiding over the biggest influx since the very beginning of the millennium, and acting like a panicked autocrat….He has made things even worse by cutting aid to the very countries that are losing their populations to America….His record is a miserable festival of incompetence and sadism, a wide open vulnerability.

I think there’s something to this. I mean, this chart is devastating:

But I think Sullivan goes adrift when he criticizes Democrats for not offering an immigration plan of their own:

This doesn’t mean competing with Trump on xenophobia, cruelty, or bigotry. It means laying out a comprehensive immigration plan that tightens asylum laws so they exclude economic migrants, invests massively in the immigration court system to speed up the process, moves the processing of asylum cases to a foreign country, mandates national e-verify, beefs up the border to wall-like impermeability, and then grants current undocumented immigrants a reprieve. Yes, that’s a big reach — but it has something for everyone, and the problem itself is huge. Elizabeth Warren has a plan for everything — but not this! The working classes don’t seem to matter as much when their wages are suppressed for decades by big corporations exploiting cheap immigrant labor.

Put aside that Sullivan has fallen for the “impermeable wall” silliness. And the fact that American law already excludes economic migrants. And the notion that immigrants suppress native wages. In fact, put aside all the details of what he says. Democrats have offered up comprehensive immigration plans many, many times. Republicans wouldn’t accept them in the Bush era, they wouldn’t accept them in the Obama era, and they won’t accept them now, in the Trump era. Hell, Pelosi and Schumer were ready to give away the store to Trump a year ago, but their proposal went nowhere for the usual reason: Republican leaders are never willing to stand up to their extreme nativist wing. Marco Rubio found that out the hard way.

So there’s really no point to any kind of detailed plan, especially when you’re competing with someone who just bellows “Build the wall!” and then calls it a day. For my money, I’d bellow “Mandatory E-verify!” plus a couple of EZ-to-grasp bullet points about DACA kids and a path to legal work status for current undocumented immigrants—and then call it a day. That’s enough for a campaign. Once President Warren is in office, she can decide if it’s worth trying to cut a more comprehensive deal with Republicans.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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