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Disorder on the Border Remains a Problem for Biden Democrats

Michael Barone on

What were they thinking? Did President Joe Biden and the folks who put together his immigration policy imagine the voting public would celebrate policies that resulted in a record-high number of migration encounters -- more than three-quarters of a million -- in the usually low-immigration months of October, November and December 2023?

Did they think letting in hundreds of thousands of people they would classify preliminarily as "asylum-seekers" and telling them to report for hearings as late as 2031 would go unnoticed?

Did they think having the government fly illegal immigrants by night into "sanctuary cities" such as New York and Chicago would go unnoticed? Did they think Republican governors in border states wouldn't launch their own flights of illegal immigrants from Texas to New York City, or Florida to Martha's Vineyard?

Did they ever contemplate that election-year pollsters would report that the issue brought up most often by voters would be immigration?

I must imagine the answer to these questions is no. Politicians do not lightly inflict political damage on themselves. And anyone who has experienced, and presumably has some memory of, the voting public's dissatisfaction with illegal immigration surges in the 1980s, '90s, and up through the housing market collapse in 2007 and 2008 -- a category that includes Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas -- should understand the negative political potential of unchecked illegal immigration.

So how to explain the Biden administration's adoption of immigration policies that amount to something difficult to distinguish from open borders?

 

One explanation, proffered by original and sometimes eccentric commentator Michael Lind, is that the Biden Democrats are trying to "import better voters." Letting in several million more illegal immigrants -- no one can be sure just how many -- will, in time, produce, either through loose voter qualification laws or citizen children of illegal immigrants, a rising number of Democratic voters.

These, the theory goes, will replace the descendants of Ellis Islander immigrants of 1892-1924 who fell away from Democratic allegiance in the 1970s and '80s. The problem is that it's not clear that "people of color" will turn out to be as unanimously Democratic as Black voters were in the years from Barry Goldwater to Barack Obama.

There's increasing evidence, even in left-leaning California, that many Hispanic immigrants of 1982-2007 and their progeny are becoming Trump Republicans, just as many white ethnics became Reagan Republicans 40 years ago.

Another explanation is that Team Biden was misled by changing attitudes of their fellow Democratic voters that, as neighborhood signs say, "no human is illegal." Since 2007, support for "increasing immigration levels" has increased from 10% to 40% levels among Democrats while remaining around 10% among Republicans, according to General Social Survey.

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