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Don't Talk About Immigration!
Peggy Sands Orchowski -- Immigration Expert Peggy Sands Orchowski -- Immigration Expert
Washington, DC
Tuesday, October 29, 2019



By Peggy Orchowski

It's curious!  Immigration has been identified as the number 2 topic of concern by over 50 percent of all voters, according to both the 2019 Brookings/PRRI American Values Survey and a Bloomberg analysis in the Washington Post Oct. 16. But immigration wasn't discussed at all at the last Democratic presidential candidates' political debate on Oct. 15 in Ohio.

In that debate, the first hour was taken up with health care payment options. New York Times' daily columnist David Leonhard complained that this was a waste of time.  Health care changes can be discussed and changed once the Democrats win the 2020 election, he argued on Oct. 27. More important is that the candidates concentrate on real Democratic issues like climate change, voters rights and tax reform, he wrote.   He didn't mention immigration at all.

I have been covering immigration in Congress and on the Hill since 2007. The topic has never been hotter.  It encompasses labor policy, justice issues, law enforcement, national security, education, health and welfare. But immigration is especially about workers – both low educated and high tech college graduates. Immigration touches almost every American, but it particularly covers the demographics and issues nearest and dearest to Democratic party members' core. 

The Democratic party of the mid 20th century used to be dominated by blue collar workers and moderate middle-class families of all races and creeds.  While all had been immigrants sometime in their family histories, Democrats believed immigrants came to take part in the American Dream: That if you worked hard, followed the law, served your country and believed in family and your faith as bigger than yourself, you would succeed in making your life and that of your community and nation better.  Many Democrats believed that everyone in the world wanted to come to the United States, take on American values and  assimilate.  Democrats used to understand that immigrants knew the homeland was left behind and that their children would become Americans, not hyphenated what-evers.

Globalism has changed the views of activist, progressive Democrats today. They believe in open free unrestricted movement of people and workers across borders. Many libertarian and progressive Democrats I have interviewed question the value of sovereign nation states with guarded borders and distinct traditions.

Now as globalists, Democrats often argue that any limits on immigration including border obstacles is xenophobic, even racist (as if immigrants are a race). Enforcement of immigration laws and deportation from inside the United State by U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) officers, is called Nazi and equivalent to the holocaust.

Many Democratic candidates' rhetoric and positions on immigration defy common sense.In the first debate, Peter O'Rourke started off his opening speech in Spanish.

All the candidates agreed by hand vote that all illegal immigrants should receive full medical insurance benefits, even as millions of native-born Americans can't.

Most all the candidates committed to President Obama 's former HUD Secretary Julian Castro's proclamation that crossing the border and staying in the country illegally should not be – illegal or at least, not punished.  Illegal immigration should be "decriminalized" they agreed.

And most supported the idea that cities should offer sanctuary to even convicted illegal immigrant felons.

It is unclear that after these immigration bombs in earlier debates, if Democratic leaders forbade the subject to be brought up in the fourth debate.  But what is clear is that immigration has become a very difficult subject for Democrats.

It's made more difficult because President Trump's actions that Democratic candidates find so abhorrent, actually reflect the views of a good proportion of Americans.  Across the political spectrum, stronger enforcement of immigration laws – not only at the borders but inside the country – is supported.  Most Americans especially agree that Congress must change the laws governing asylum to prevent their continued abuse.

In 2011 when Senator Chuck Schumer took over the chairmanship of the Senate immigration committee from the dying Ted Kennedy, he often said, "Americans love immigrants but they don't like illegal immigration".   Now Schumer goes along with extremist Democrats who call the term "illegal" "hate speech" and enforcement measures leading to deportation "inhumane".

Democrats are going to have to get a more common-sense message on immigration enforcement (that doesn't include "legalizing all illegal immigrants" so there are none nor insisting "there is no such thing as an illegal person").  They must recognize that President Trump is reflecting – not driving – most Americans concerns about illegal immigration, concerns that Democrats used to share.  It's one of the big reasons Trump won the 2016 election for president and could do so again in 2020.

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“We can’t know where we’re going if we don’t know where we’ve been”. Vice President of the Brookings Institution Darrell West wrote in recommending Peggy Sands Orchowski’s books   "The Law That Changed The Face of America: The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965" and  "Immigration and the American Dream: Battling the Political Hype and Hysteria" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015 and 2008 respectively).  Peggy is a credentialed Senior Congressional journalist in Washington DC. She is available for interviews, article assignments and speaking engagements about immigration   porchowski@hotmail.com

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Name: Peggy Sands Orchowski
Title: Senior Congressional Correspondent
Dateline: Washington, DC United States
Main Phone: 202-236-5595
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