As of this writing, Congress and the President are trying to strike a deal. All parties involved seem to want to avoid a partial shutdown of the federal government. Democrats want a DACA fix in return for their votes. Trump wants a wall and some other immigration law changes in return for the DACA fix.
Let’s start by getting some unpleasant facts on the table. During the first two years of the Obama administration, the Democrats had a majority in the House and a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. They repeatedly promised to protect “undocumented” immigrants, especially the so-called Dreamers. They didn’t even introduce a piece of legislation to do so. My cynical mind concludes that they were more interested in the issue than a solution.
Donald Trump ran a stridently anti-immigrant campaign for the presidency. At every campaign stop, he talked about building a wall and deporting 11–12 million illegal immigrants currently residing in the country. Forty nine percent of the electorate voted for him. He lost the popular vote by 2 million. He lost California, a state with a large number of the people he insulted, by three million votes. A majority of voters in the other 49 states voted for him.
The standard response is that his supporters are racist rednecks. Some of them are, but certainly not most or all of the people who voted for him. Lots of our citizens believe that we should secure our borders and enforce our immigration laws. Lots of our citizens believe that we should have better control of the number and composition of immigrants. Lots of our citizens believe that we should demand a higher standard of assimilation. They are tired of pressing 1 for English and multi-lingual ballots. If the popular vote proves this group to be a minority, so be it, but it is sure as hell a significant minority.
I digress to insert here a small rant. I don’t use the word “undocumented” to describe residents of our country who sneaked across the border or overstayed their visas. Illegal is the right word. We have immigration laws–passed by the Congress and signed by presidents. People who came here in violation of those laws are best described as illegal. Those who oppose the immigration laws need to work at changing the laws, not demanding that we ignore their existence by changing the word. Rule of law means that laws get enforced until they are changed by the legislative process, not ignored, “sanctuaried”, or judge shopped.
The DACA issue may end up as an impasse. Democrats say the wall is a red line and Trump says the same. What I have tried to figure out is why the Democrats oppose border security. Even if they think the wall is a waste of money, the amount involved pales in comparison to other things on which we are wasting money. They could agree to some border security measures that Trump could spin as a win.
My conclusion is that the progressive wing of the Democratic party has a vision of a permanent majority. They see a coalition of hard core believers, single women, public employees, gays, trial lawyers, African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians getting them into power and keeping them there. They see legalization of immigrants from Mexico and Central America (and their high reproduction rate) as a key element of that permanent majority. They want less border security because they want more immigrants. They may be right. Certainly, it worked in California. We have three parties–Progressive, More Progressive, and (the fringe from the outer darkness) the Central Valley. Once Jerry Brown rides off into the sunset, Progressives rule!
I see two speed bumps in this road to progressive nirvana. The first is distribution of voters. New England, New York, Virginia, and the Left Coast contain the greatest concentration of Progressive voters. Democrats will continue to win by large majorities there, but their coalition doesn’t come close to a majority in fly-over country. There are more red states than blue states, and more red congressional districts than blue. The last time the Democrats had a majority in the House, there were about 25 Blue Dogs, recruited by Rahm Emanuel. The progressive wing of the Democratic party has no room for blue dogs.
The second problem is that the Hispanic and Asian immigrant community may find, over time, that they don’t fit into the Progressive tent very well. Right now, the Democrats are seen as the pro-immigrant party, because they have kept the issue alive, without really attempting to address the problem. I am not pretending to have a representative sample, but the Hispanic and Asian immigrants I know (some of whom are employed by our company) are culturally conservative and entrepreneurial. They may not be excited by an agenda that pushes abortion on demand, transgender bathroom access, and Elizabeth Warren’s war on segments of the business community.
There is no doubt that Donald Trump may cause Republicans to lose their current congressional majorities. 2018 may well be a wave election. His chances of a second term are slim to none. He may be impeached. If he isn’t, the next president will probably be a Democrat, from the energized wing of the party. However, both parties would be better off if we built a virtual wall, enforced/modified our immigration laws, granted a somewhat arduous path the citizenship for 12 million illegals, and created a system to attract a sensible number of talented immigrants who are willing to pass some sort of assimilation test. And Republicans would be better off to enthusiastically support that reform. Then, they could start selling their agenda in the barrios and migrant labor encampments.