Bernie Sanders

On Immigration, Bernie Sanders Sounds Like Donald Trump

Says relaxing immigration restrictions is a right-wing Koch plot.



Sen. Bernie Sanders calls himself an internationalist democratic socialist, wants a $15 an hour minimum wage, would make college tuition "free," likes single-payer healthcare… and utterly opposes relaxing stringent immigration laws because that's something rightwing corporate billionaires support.

The far-left presidential candidate recently elaborated on these views during a sit-down interview with Vox Editor-in-Chief Ezra Klein. A particularly illuminating moment:

Ezra Klein: You said being a democratic socialist means a more international view. I think if you take global poverty that seriously, it leads you to conclusions that in the US are considered out of political bounds. Things like sharply raising the level of immigration we permit, even up to a level of open borders. About sharply increasing …

Bernie Sanders: Open borders? No, that's a Koch brothers proposal.

Ezra Klein: Really?

Bernie Sanders: Of course. That's a right-wing proposal, which says essentially there is no United States. …

Ezra Klein: But it would make …

Bernie Sanders: Excuse me …

Ezra Klein: It would make a lot of global poor richer, wouldn't it?

Bernie Sanders: It would make everybody in America poorer —you're doing away with the concept of a nation state, and I don't think there's any country in the world that believes in that. If you believe in a nation state or in a country called the United States or UK or Denmark or any other country, you have an obligation in my view to do everything we can to help poor people. What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don't believe in that. I think we have to raise wages in this country, I think we have to do everything we can to create millions of jobs.

To his credit, Klein pushed back by pointing out that the poor people of the United States are actually quite wealthy when compared with the poor people of other countries. But Sanders maintained that his first obligation as a senator from Vermont was to defend American workers from the scourge of foreigners taking their jobs.

Sanders is arguing in bad faith, however, to suggest that his opponents—the Koch brothers, among them—want a completely open border. Very few people involved in immigration policy are actively trying to erode all territorial distinctions between the United States and Mexico. Framing the issues this way, as Sanders does, is demagoguery intended to make supporters of a more welcoming immigration system sound crazy.

Sanders has a long history of fighting efforts to reform immigration laws on the grounds that immigrants hurt the economy and depress American workers' wages. But as Reason's Shikha Dalmia has long-argued, this view is at odds with the consensus among economists that more immigration is better for the economy, has a positive effect on wages, and creates jobs.

But for "internationalist" socialist Democrat Sanders, hatred of the rich outweighs concern for the material well-being of the world's poor.