The Democratic Party’s tactic in the immigration debate has become familiar, and it's one the party uses in nearly every other issue area. Just call all opponents racist, brand all opposing arguments racist, and even declare any inconvenient vocabulary racist.
This effort to disqualify opposing arguments, a relic of the Obama era that has badly atrophied Democrats’ capacity for argumentation and imagination for new ideas, is not only cynical but also undemocratic. Immigration is a serious issue, and it should be discussed openly and decided by democratic institutions.
America’s immigration policy has long been the world’s most generous, even without counting the large number of illegal immigrants who have come here and not been deported. But no country is obliged to take anyone and everyone who wants to enter.
Free people have a right to determine, through democratic processes, who can enter and live in their country, and to do so based on their own interests. Despite what Democrats tell you, the public agrees with President Trump in this particular and on immigration in broad terms, even if not in all particulars.
More than 70 percent of Americans who watched Trump’s State of the Union speech Tuesday said they favored the basic immigration proposals that the president laid out. These are, first, a path to citizenship for those covered by former President Barack Obama’s policy for "Dreamers," illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children; second, funding for border security, including a wall; third, reforming the pathways by which immigrants lawfully enter the U.S.
This is a good deal, which both parties in Congress should accept.
Democrats have long demanded a path to citizenship for those protected by DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Not only is Trump willing to grant it, along with a path to citizenship, but it is also clearly in America’s interest as a nation. Of those foreigners who would live here, those who want to become citizens, too, not just permanent resident aliens, are clearly those who should, in general, be preferred.
In the past, Republicans have condemned “amnesty” specifically because of the moral hazard it creates. Grant an immigration amnesty, they’ll say, and you only encourage more illegal immigration in anticipation of the next one.
What’s brilliant about the codification of DACA is that it almost completely avoids this problem. It is narrowly tailored to the most assimilated demographic of illegal immigrants, who arrived young and came of age here. It also applies only to a group that did not knowingly violate the law. This makes Trump’s compromise palatable to all but the most hawkish of conservatives.
It is about time the U.S. returned to using a democratic process to make immigration policy according to reason and self-interest, rather than conducting show trials in the media about which positions are politically correct enough to be espoused in public.
The biggest unit in which democracy is currently possible is the nation-state. A nation-state can exist only if it has a border. Or, as Trump, puts it, if you don't have a border, you don't have a country. Thus, democracy is only possible if citizens of a country have secure borders within which they are self-governing. Self-government includes deciding the system by which new residents may enter and become citizens.
This fundamental right of a free people, this democratic process, will first have to overcome Democrats and their cynical, self-interested assertions that any disagreement with their undemocratic nonpolicy on immigration is racist.
Trump must not budge or let a Democratic shutdown of the government deter him.