As Republicans Go Batshit on Immigration, Democrats Turn Into Sweet Angels

Both sides have pulled a switcheroo to play identity politics with their base


Matt Welch chronicled this week how Donald Trump has managed to bait even his relatively sane GOP rivals into saying something totally bonkers on immigration. (My personal favorite was Chris Christie's suggestion to bar code foreign tourists so that they could be tracked like Federal Express packages.) But in the world of competitive politics, one party's insanity is another's opportunity. Hence, Democrats, whose official platform not-too-long ago

Naive Immigrant
pamhule / Foter / CC BY-NC

could have been Sheriff Joe Arpaio's wet dream and whose pro-union proclivities have done more than anything to create the gaping wound that is the 11 million unauthorized immigrants by ending guest worker or bracero program with Mexico in mid '60s, are pulling a switcheroo. They are becoming the unabashed pro-immigration party if their presidential candidates are any indication.

First there is the (soon to be former) frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Her husband pledged to root out "drugs and illegal immigrants" and boasted that he had placed Border Patrol agents so close together in El Paso that they could see each other. Not to be outdone, she herself opposed even drivers' licenses for undocumented aliens. Yet, in a brilliant political move some weeks ago, she went whole hog amnesty. She promised to go much further than even President Obama's recent executive action and "defer" deportation proceedings against not just some illegal immigrants, but virtually all of them, while working toward comprehensive immigration reform that included citizenship for illegals. This might be a pipe dream, but it is clever because while Democrats' white and minority supporters are united on the issue of immigration (or at least not hopelessly divided), the GOP's are not, as I noted:

This means that the more Republicans question and condemn Clinton's support for "amnesty," the more they'll dig themselves in a hole with Latinos and make her more popular. On the other hand, it they stay mute—which is what most of them have done (with the exception of Lindsey Graham)—they'll risk alienating the anti-amnesty white base that they have spent the last decade riling up.

In other words, if Republicans fight Hillary's call for amnesty, they'll lose Latinos, which will benefit Hillary. But if they don't, they'll lose whites, which will also benefit Hillary.

In other words, she has constructed a perfect "heads I win, tails you lose" trap for Republicans IF she survives E-MailGate.

But even more pro-immigration than her is Maryland's former spendthrift-in-chief Governor Martin O'Malley. He left his state in a billion-plus hole and wants to accelerate the pace at which Social Security is bankrupting the country by expanding it but, on immigration, he is striking the most Reaganesque note of anyone left, right or center. While Republicans — contra Reagan — increasingly talk about immigrants as moochers who come to America to live off the welfare state rather than for economic opportunity, O'Malley talks about immigrants as assets rather than liabilities. He charmingly calls immigrants "New Americans" whom he wants to "welcome" because they can help "rebuild the American dream."

He also waxes Reaganesque when he says things like: "We are, and always have been, a nation of immigrants and our immigration laws must reflect our values." And: "The enduring symbol of our nation is the Statue of Liberty, not a barbed wire fence."

He has articulated the most extensive immigration reform agenda that delves deep into immigration law arcana to make it even easier than President Obama's executive order to bring unauthorized aliens out of the shadows. For example, even immigrants who have legal status sometimes must return to their home countries to obtain an a green card, but if they previously lived in the United States as undocumented immigrants, they are barred from reentering for 3 to 10 years. O'Malley says he would grant broad waivers to those immigrants.

As governor he extended in-state tuition to children of unauthorized immigrants. This might seem bananas in the current sulfurous anti-immigrant context. But just three short years ago, Rick Perry, who now wants to summon the National Guard to secure the border, was vociferously defending a similar policy in Texas against Mitt Romney — for the simple reason is that it is unfair to deny state residents access to colleges that they pay for through taxes.

Likewise, former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, the Republican-turned-Democrat whose announcement that he is running was so quiet it's unclear whether his wife heard him, is a long-standing softie on immigration (and dove on the Iraq War). He supported Sen. John McCain's comprehensive immigration reform  and opposes — or at least has opposed — a wall against Mexico as well as E-Verify. He is for legalization of unauthorized folks and access to in-state tuition.

His fellow rival Sen. Jim Webb, a conservative Democrat, is more of a "secure the border first" rather than a comprehensive reform guy. However, he too would create a path to citizenship and continue federal funding for "sanctuary cities" that defy ICE's unconstitutional detainer requests and refuse to keep undocumented aliens under lock and key pending deportation by Uncle Same without an arrest warrant.

The only Democrat in the presidential field sticking to the original party line on immigration is Bernie Sanders, an old-fashioned protectionist who still lives in a Malthusian universe where the economy is a zero-sum game. He says he'll go further than Obama in legalizing the unauthorized population but wants to shut the door on new immigrants because – bet you never saw this coming!—they threaten American wages and jobs (a line that, of all people, the union-buster Scott Walker has started regurgitating).

But if Sander's fellow-Democrats have changed their tune on immigration it isn't because they have suddenly grokked Adam Smith (after all they still believe that minimum wage mandates don't cost jobs), but because their political incentives have changed.

Restrictionism was a winning strategy when unions were a major force in moving votes and money of America's predominantly white working class in the Democratic direction. But unions are a declining force in America and whites will be a plurality before 2050 — by which time new minorities such as Hispanics and Asians, the product of recent waves of immigration will have doubled from their levels in 2010.

Hence it makes perfect sense for Democrats to not just abandon their former restrictionism but also make immigration — not welfare, environment, economy or jobs — the wedge issue in the upcoming election by countering every nasty anti-immigration statement that comes out of the mouth of their Republican rivals with something piously pro-immigration.

The upshot of all this will be that the two parties will test polar opposite electoral strategies in 2016 with Democrats trying to win by playing identity politics with old and new minorities and Republicans trying to win by playing identity politics with working-class whites. (It is not a coincidence that, along with restricitonism, protectionism is also rising among Republican politicos. Witness Donald Trump's populist jeremiads against "blood-sucking China" and traitorous automakers that move their plants to Mexico.)

Regardless of who prevails, the 180-degree shift by both parties on immigration shows that politics is where principles go to die.

(I addressed why a turn to restrictionism by Republicans ain't all that politically smart here and here. Actually, it is rather moronic.)


NEXT: A.M. Links: Hillary Staffer Subpoenaed Over Private Email Server, Kentucky Clerk Faces Contempt Charges for Refusing to License Gay Marriages, O'Malley Plans Protest Outside DNC

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  1. Now your just trolling us.

    1. The Democrooks don’t care about Hispanics, they just want their vote come election time. Besides, Hispanics need to come in an orderly fashion, and learn English. They are often so ignorant, that they refuse to speak English no matter what the circumstance. They think we need to roll out the red carpet and drop our English language and learn Spanish, just to make them happy. Many Hispanics also want American’s to drop their culture and adopt to theirs. I pledge that within 10 years the Democrooks in Congress, will have passed a Spanish only law. This will require that all government documents be printed in Spanish only, and that all street signs be printed in Spanish only. That way the Democrooks can control the federal government for decades to come!

    2. This is Dalmia explaining why it is “libertarian” to vote for Hillary.

      1. “As Republicans Go Batshit on Immigration, …”

        Well if there’s anyone who’s an expert of Batshit insanity about immigration, it’s got to be Shikha Dalmia.

  2. so that they could be tracked like Foreign Express packages

    Dipshit manages to fuck up and make herself look a complete idiot even when she’s making a good point. Smh.

    1. You know who else tracked a segment of their population?

        1. In all seriousness, I think Democrats are always trying to live down the fact that FDR committed what is probably the worst act of racial discrimination in history behind slavery and the treatment of Native Americans. He’s regarded as a Team Blue hero to this day, but they conveniently skip over that part where he ordered people (including my father when he was three years old) to be rounded up and put in camps based on their race.

          And yet, if you oppose entitlement programs, or if you support voter ID laws, or if you make a comment with the slightest hint of insensitivity to racial issues, or if you suggest that there should be some limits or qualifications for immigration, or if you think Obama falls short of being a perfect president, or if you believe that black-on-black violence is a bigger threat to black people than “white privilege”… Well, if you do any of those things, you’re the worst racist in history, worse than Hitler himself.

          tl;dr: Democrats’ frantic effort to present themselves as anti-racists is just a compensation for their party’s horribly racist past.

          1. Well, let’s be honest. Asians aren’t “real” minorities, they earn way too much, get good grades, and do math. They are pretty much “white” so the whole internment thing can be whitewashed……literally.

      1. FDR?

      2. FDR, Hitler, Stalin, or Emperor Palpatine are all acceptable answers.

      3. Every government ever

      4. King Herrod, Palestine, circa 3 or 6 BC or some such…

  3. If you don’t feed it, it will eventually starve, or get fired.

    *Clicks on another story, post haste*

  4. damn, this gets tedious. It’s like Reason’s two minutes of hate.

    1. Xenophobic Nativist! /not serious

      1. RACIST for not taking this seriously!!111one!!


    2. Journolisters gonna journolist

  5. That guy in the picture is holding up what has to be the stupidest sign in the history of protesting.

    Responsible adults keep promises. Friends use your emotional investment to weasel out of promises.

    1. Man – your friends SUCK

  6. I’d like to start a petition.

    Can someone at Reason tell Shikha to fuck off?


  7. In other words… In other words

    Why don’t you just say what you mean the first time?

  8. Both sides have pulled a switcheroo

    I believe that’s more of a “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

    1. It’s a goose that’s had the old switcheroo pulled on it.

  9. Marvelous article. Thanks for noticing that Reagan was the polar opposite of the clowns dominating the party these days. I was very proud to call myself a Republican in the 1980s, but with the ascendancy of Trump, forget it. I’m ashamed to be called an American, much less a Republican.

    1. I’m ashamed to call myself “Princess” after seeing what a whore Diana was.

      1. Being a whore is nothing to be ashamed of.

        1. … unless you are a whore for the State, that is… Serving the State with your body, rather than your conscience… Henry David Thoreau said something along those lines, but he cleaned it up a bit. Roughly, “The vast majority of men serve the state with their bodies (editorial comment, think cops and soldiers), as a beast of burden serves the farmer (editorial comment: No whores for the state mentioned here), while the REAL “menschen” serve the state, with their conscience, and so, for the most part, oppose the state.”

        2. Don’t push your morality on us Almighty…

      2. I’m ashamed of….nothing, really.

        And I support you, Princess!! We know you’re different than that English hag!

      3. Nonsense. I’m sure you’re the belle of the ball.

    2. Reagan’s deal was – we’ll give this lot citizenship AND stop letting more come here illegally. Since the second half of that bargain was never upheld, the Right is unwilling to repeat the first half.

  10. related: Low-Income Workers See Biggest Drop in Paychecks…..hecks.html

  11. While Republicans ? contra Reagan ? increasingly talk about immigrants as moochers who come to America to live off the welfare state

    Yeah, where would anybody get an idea like that?…../71517072/

    1. Hey, Reason has a narrative and is sticking to it.

      1. Facts are counter-revolutionary and must be supressed for the good of the peoples’ party.

  12. Why is everyone so mad over this article?

  13. Well now, if the Democrats are now the “sweet angels” on immigration, are turning their backs on the unions, and believe that “newcomers” only make America stronger, I assume that they will now support repeal of the Immigration Reform and Control Act. This law, enacted in the 1980s and signed by that pro-immigration President, Ronald Reagan, makes it a federal crime for me to hire any one of these hard-working Dreamers who only want help make our economy strong. Worse yet, it turns every employer into an enforcement agency, and requires every American who takes a job to “prove” that he or she is “authorized to work.”

    I can only assume that with their new found love for hard-working immigrants, the Democrats will certainly seek to repeal this moronic, stupid law. Am I right?

  14. Six months ago I lost my job and after that I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a great website which literally saved me. I started working for them online and in a short time after I’ve started averaging 15k a month… The best thing was that cause I am not that computer savvy all I needed was
    some basic typing skills and internet access to start… This is where to start??????????

  15. This might be a pipe dream, but it is clever because while Democrats’ white and minority supporters are united on the issue of immigration (or at least not hopelessly divided), the GOP’s are not

    Eh, I don’t think so.

    There’s a rather large segment of the democrat party which a luddite/xenophobe combo: “The technology’s gonna steal our JERBS, along with the im’grants! Vote union! Derp!” These are the people very much in touch with self-interest democracy, framing themselves as the poor victims, even if it comes at the expense of even poorer victims. Because helping the poor and unfortunate is only supposed to go so far.

    Unfortunately for them, their political masters figured out a long time ago that theirs is a collection of special interest groups, and immigrants is one of the biggest of all. Hell, the latino vote is much more important for victory than the black vote. So, every democrat politician will be happy to entertain luddites, but not xenophobes, and these democrats only have a voice as far as their union rep goes. And, really, who listens to those people anymore?

    1. Bernie sanders is listening to unions

      1. Yeah, it’s like there’s a certain democrat demographic that wants wealth redistribution to the poor, because they’re so kind hearted, but, at the same time, is only in it for the relatively poor US citizens. The actual poor, that live in foreign countries? Eh, who cares?

        It’s like they have socialist leanings, with a blend of nationalism. Perhaps it should be called …. national… socialism?

        1. Id like to pretend to be a bernie sanders supporter on his fb or something and say

          I support bernie for he is a socialist that understands the importance of maintaining our national identity whose party can be considered that of all the workers while we take down those select few that are destroying the country

  16. Start making cash right now… Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8596 a month. I’ve started this job and I’ve never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here…

  17. You cannot have open borders and a welfare state at the same time:

    Report: More than half of immigrants on welfare

    About 51% of immigrant-led households receive at least one kind of welfare benefit, including Medicaid, food stamps, school lunches and housing assistance, compared to 30% for native-led households? Those numbers increase for households with children, with 76% of immigrant-led households receiving welfare, compared to 52% for the native-born.

    1. Link doesn’t work

    2. “You cannot have open borders and a welfare state at the same time:”

      Sure you can. You may not like the results, but the Progressive Theocracy does.

  18. Here goes Shikma the progressive again.

    While I consider myself a libertarian, have voted libertarian, and even sent them checks (making me a Libertarian I guess), I think I am about done with Reason. I expect wacky stuff in the comments, trolls, progressives, and fascists alike. The steady diet of progressive policies from the staff of Reason has finally made me wonder why I come here. I can see progressive nonsense nearly anywhere.

    This is too bad because I used to send people here to learn about libertarian ideas. Not a good course any more, and that is a shame.

    1. Question I raise is, why has REASON suddenly jumped on the immigration bandwagon? What is this gaining for the libertarian movement? We certainly do not see immigrants signing up with the LP en masse. Are they subscribing to REASON magazine?

      Some thoughts:
      * Open borders if a trendy issue and REASON is jumping on the bandwagon.
      * REASON hopes to cash in on corporate grants for organizations which want open borders to obtain cheap labor.
      * Members of REASON’s staff want to bring in their relatives from third world countries.

      1. Because pot is not the issue that it once was.

        1. It is if Mexicans and ass sex are involved. Apparently.

      2. Not as effective an issue. Democrats are becoming the majority party, and the libertarian crowd can’t offer nearly as much free stuff as Dems. I keep reading now and then libertarian prevarication over a “minimum income”, so perhaps they’re going to attract disaffected Dems one day.

  19. Yeah, let’s allow those multitudes to invade our country, overload our schools and requires scheools to teach in twolanguages, add more plice because the ilegals are increasing our crime rate 30% and killings lots of Americans, all the while taking jobs from Blacks and 50% on welfare.
    Anyone who defends illegal immigration is a total ass.

  20. I’d like to hear Shikha say “batshit”.

  21. Be libertarian, and bow to your new latino overlords.

  22. “My personal favorite was Chris Christie’s suggestion to bar code foreign tourists”

    Quote? I betcha a nickel that didn’t happen.

    But, since it’s Open Border’s time, I know that truth is irrelevant. Carry on with the hysterical pants shitting.

  23. “This means that the more Republicans question and condemn Clinton’s support for “amnesty,” the more they’ll dig themselves in a hole with Latinos and make her more popular.”

    Republicans are already unpopular with Latinos. They gain nothing by making more of those Latinos into voters.

    Since La Raza is unlikely to be voting enthusiastically Republican regardless of how much they bend over on illegal immigration.

    1. Like there is any benefit to American citizens to confer citizenship on tens of millions of illegals anyway. Might as well hand them our wallets and slit our own throats.

      1. Yeah, they’d be entitled to find the jobs white people do, such as playing around on the Internet all day. Keeping them illegal gets our produce to us cheap. Why mess with that system? And they can’t even vote! How perfect is that?

        1. Well if people like you Tony did not try to fuck over small businesses that the “Brown People” start in their own communities, maybe the paint chips that you eat like a bowl of maypo would not kill the chipmunks in the numbers of Dwarf Star Vagina Yogurt !!!

        2. And Tony twists this into race. Tony, you’re the most racist poster here. Advocating for swarms of illegals allows employers to lay sub market wages and also depresses legitimate market wages through artificially high demand for said jobs. Ergo you have helped create a defects space class to do your menial work for substandard wages.

          Do you ever get tired of being for every evil thing in the world? Or is there some limit to your love of Marxism?

          1. Suicidy,

            You are right on the money on this issue! We need to end this illegal immigration invasion of our country. Those Latin American countries would not allow us to come in illegally. So, we must not let them come either.

  24. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ??????

  25. The biggest turn of events is that the Dems that are pushing for immigration in the hopes that these illegals will gratefully become stalwart Dem voters – otherwise the Dems should be throwing the wetbacks over the fence with the greatest enthusiasnm. Why? Because their true loyal subjects, the African-Americans, are getting reamed and screwed by the illegals, as are the legal Hispanics, who are threatened by slave labor wages offered by the illegals. Now we see where that is leading, and it has nothing to do with the silly theories expressed by this author. That Black woman who loudly objected to the LA Council installing a couple of illegals (presumable they could enunciate a few English word, or appropriate grunts) then proclaimed that she was “All for Trump”, the only pol who was protecting Blacks and legal Hispanics from the deluge of welfare sucking, major felony criminals who are infesting out country. Now we see this reflected in polls: for the first time probably since Abe Lincoln, over 25% of Blacks are for the GOP -Trump, plus who knows how many for Carson. The Dems CANNOT WIN WITHOUT MOST OF THE AFRICAN-AMERICANS. Also,surprisingly, over 32% of legal Hispanics are for Trump, That is another group that the Demshave screwed but expect them to remain on the old plantation.

  26. You’re wrong about “birthright citizenship”, and I’m not going to take the time to point you to the sources of what “natural born citizen” meant at the time the Constitution was ratified and the 14th amendment was passed (which is what matters).

    You’re an idiot with an agenda, and you don’t know what you’re talking about. Go read a book and learn something, please.

  27. There are so many reasons that make me wantto slap pro-immigration assholes in the mouth.
    We can start with the fact that practically all of the new low level jobs are going to the below minimum wage illegals, not to resident Hispnics nor African-Ameicans. Next comes the criminality factor – almost 4,0000 Texans (just texans) murdered by illegals over the past several years. Illegals responsible for 30% of serious crimes in many states. 3/4th of illeags on welfare, or food stamps. Enormous increases in funds for education. I need go no further – anyonewho supports Mexican illegals should have his ass kicked, good and hard. Hopefully by the Blacks whose jobs he is stealing

  28. There are so many reasons that make me wantto slap pro-immigration assholes in the mouth.
    We can start with the fact that practically all of the new low level jobs are going to the below minimum wage illegals, not to resident Hispnics nor African-Ameicans. Next comes the criminality factor – almost 4,0000 Texans (just texans) murdered by illegals over the past several years. Illegals responsible for 30% of serious crimes in many states. 3/4th of illeags on welfare, or food stamps. Enormous increases in funds for education. I need go no further – anyonewho supports Mexican illegals should have his ass kicked, good and hard. Hopefully by the Blacks whose jobs he is stealing

  29. Michael Hihn, is a fool!

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