Fox News Halftime Report

Democrats oblivious to lessons on immigration fight

Steve Harrigan reports from Jacksonville, Florida

 

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On the roster: Democrats oblivious to lessons on immigration fight - DHS head orders hiring surge, end ‘catch-and-release’ - Revised refugee ban could come as soon as today - Trump denounces anti-Semitism.

DEMOCRATS OBLIVIOUS TO LESSONS ON IMMIGRATION FIGHT
Calling something a “social issue” is just another way of saying that the sides in the dispute are bound by matters of faith.

If you are closing military bases, setting marginal tax rates or devising sanctions for a hostile nation, you and your political adversary are likely to disagree about how or how much, but not on the very facts or objectives themselves.

When we talk about social issues, though, we get into the unanswerables.

When does life begin? Is human sexuality determined at birth? Are there inherent differences between racial groups?

These are the questions that no sane politician wants to try to answer because the issues supersede science and statistics and enter the realm of theology, philosophy and belief.

Sometimes, though, issues migrate from the realm of practical application and into that space. A great example is global warming, which by all rights ought to be about economics and ecology, but has evolved into the kind of fight that theologians would recognize, with absolute dogmas and brutal purges against heretics.

And now, we have immigration.

American history is flecked with fights about immigration. Certainty we would recognize much of the furor over how to deal with previous waves of mass migration to the United States: Scots-Irish in the 18th and early 19th centuries, Germans, Irish and Chinese in the 19th century and the Ellis Island arrivals from Southern and Eastern Europe a century ago.

Each wave brought conflict of varying degrees as the indigenous population feared economic disruption, cultural dilution and the introduction of un-American immorality.

Our current struggle is what to make of the wave of immigrants from Latin America that poured into the United States staring in the 1970s and surging until about 2010. After many years of trying to treat it as a philosophical question, American politics is resigning itself to the reality: immigration is a hard-nosed, practical concern to most voters.

The Republican Party foundered on the rocks of immigration reform at least twice before acknowledging this truth. The acknowledgment came in the form of President Trump and his successful 2016 campaign.

And Democrats are still struggling to define the subject in new terms.

Democratic leaders certainly see immigration as a social issue, but from the reverse perspective. In the minds of American liberals, immigration and the cultural diversity it produces are inherently good. If permissive immigration policies are moral, then restrictions on immigration must be immoral.

But when complex subjects such as these are reduced to Manichean morality tests, voters often shy away. And as Democrats have pursued both permissive immigration policies, and denounced enforcement measures and restrictions, they have seen voters flee from them.

It is easy to forget that something like one in five self-described Democrats in most polls support the idea of mass deportations of illegal immigrants. Or that surveys routinely show strong support among Democrats and independents for more robust border control and internal enforcement.

Much as the Republicans before them, Democratic leaders simply assume that all right thinking people must agree with them about the moral and practical necessities of immigration, but fail to invest much time or effort in explaining why.

There are a lot of reasons why working-class, white voters who were traditionally part of the Democratic base have abandoned the party in increasing numbers over the past generation. But surely the party’s stated opposition to a tougher stance on illegal immigration has got to be a part.

The same goes for the working-class and middle-class, black voters who, despite passionate support for former President Barack Obama, have seen Democrats embrace mass immigration even as conditions in predominantly black communities have deteriorated.

For the think-tank left and big-city, highly-educated elite of the party, immigration is a social issue. But for many of the voters they seek, it is a practical one that relates to job anxiety, public education and a perceived threat to public safety.

Scholars on both sides of the issue can make convincing arguments about whether large-scale immigration has been or would be helpful to the nation’s economy and the health of our society. Whatever your position, there is a scholarly paper that will back you up.

As a matter of political practice, though, Democrats are leaving themselves wide open on this subject by not making a cogent case for what they believe.

One of the ways in which Trump continues to threaten the Democratic coalition is his focus on enforcement. But rather than acknowledging problems with a system that continues to allow something like 10 percent of the nation’s population to reside here illegally, Democrats denounce Trump’s new measures as heartless.

In the basket of emotions, compassion tends to be a luxury item for human beings. Insecure or anxious people may wish to be compassionate, but readily excuse their own narrowed self-interest in straiten circumstances.

Telling an underemployed resident of Wisconsin that America should be a welcoming place to people from around the world is a tough sell – especially when Trump offers the hope of economic rescue by means of clamping down on new arrivals and booting out many of those already here.

An appeal to conscience is a powerful thing, but an appeal to personal necessity tends to win out in the quiet of the heart… and in the voting booth.

Unless and until Democrats are willing to trade the comforting but politically damaging view of immigration as a moral and social issue and start making the case for the practical application of their ideas, they will be sitting ducks for Trump and his promises of prosperity and security.

THE RULEBOOK: OUT OF BOUNDS
“It will not be denied, that power is of an encroaching nature, and that it ought to be effectually restrained from passing the limits assigned to it.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 48

TIME OUT: CAUGHT IN A SNARE
On this date in 1868, President Andrew Johnson made the fateful choice that would lead to his impeachment, the first of only two in American history. PBS: “Johnson had long wanted to dismiss the Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton…Johnson hoped to challenge the constitutionality of the Tenure of Office Act. When Congress reconvened, they overruled Stanton’s suspension …Ignoring Congress, Johnson formally dismissed Stanton on February 21, 1868. With the support of the Republicans, Stanton responded by locking himself in his office and refusing to leave… [T]he House of Representatives formally impeached [Johnson] on February 24 by a vote of 126 to 47…It was then up to the Senate to try Johnson…On May 16, 1868, President Johnson escaped removal from office by just one vote.”

[Ed. note: Monday’s President’s Day Time Out trivia included an error. Question two should have read “Prior to Bill Clinton’s 1992 victory, the GOP won nine out of 10 contests in California. Which one did they lose?” The given answer, 1964, was correct. We apologize for the confusion.]

Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with
your tips, comments or questions.

DHS HEAD ORDERS HIRING SURGE, END ‘CATCH-AND-RELEASE’
Fox News: “Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly moved Tuesday to implement a host of immigration enforcement changes ordered by President Trump, directing agency heads to hire thousands more officers, end so-called ‘catch-and-release’ policies and begin work on the president’s promised U.S.-Mexico border wall. ‘It is in the national interest of the United States to prevent criminals and criminal organizations from destabilizing border security,’ Kelly wrote in one of two memos released Tuesday by the department. The memos follow up on Trump’s related executive actions from January and, at their heart, aim to toughen enforcement by expanding the categories of illegal immigrants targeted for deportation. The changes would spare so-called ‘dreamers.’ On a conference call with reporters, a DHS official stressed that the directives would not affect Obama-era protections for illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and others given a reprieve in 2014.”

Revised refugee ban could come as soon as today - USA Today: “President Trump plans to issue a revised version of his temporary travel ban targeting majority-Muslim countries as early as Tuesday, with a likely focus on fewer people so it will survive legal challenges. The new order, according to a draft obtained by the Associated Press, would focus on the same seven countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – but would only bar entry to those without a visa and who have never entered the United States before. Unlike the original order, people from those countries who already have permanent U.S. residency (green cards) or visas would not face any restrictions.” 

[Watch Fox: Martha MacCallum hosts a town hall in Jacksonville, Fla. with voters, lawmakers and Senior White House Policy Advisor Stephen Miller to talk immigration at 7 p.m. ET]

TRUMP DENOUNCED ANTI-SEMITISM AT AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM
USA Today: “Touring a new museum devoted to African-American history, President Trump said Tuesday he will do what he can to improve race relations and also denounced a series of recent threats and vandalism aimed at Jews. ‘The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful, and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil,’ Trump said after touring the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In an earlier interview on MSNBC, Trump said that ‘Anti-Semitism is horrible, and it's going stop and it has to stop,.’ Trump had been criticized for passing up previous chances to denounce a spate of recent anti-Semitic incidents that range from desecration of a Jewish cemetery to Jewish community centers.”

MEET TRUMP’S NEW NSA PICK
AP: “President Donald Trump has chosen as his national security adviser a soldier-scholar who fought in both Iraq wars and wrote an influential book that called out the U.S. government for ‘lies’ that led to the Vietnam War. Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster would remain on active military duty while leading the National Security Council, White House officials said Monday. He joined two retired generals - Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly - already in Trump’s inner circle, adding to the impression that the president prefers military men in top roles.”

AUDIBLE: ONE AGAINST ALL

“You campaigned as a populist against both the Democratic and Republican establishments, and if you continue to do that you will have some success.” – Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on “The View” talking about how Trump can succeed in office. 

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Kremlin disputes Trump lawyer story on Ukraine peace plan - AP

White House changes story on length of Trump golf outing with PGA stars -
The Hill

Trump blast anti-Semitism, at visit to African American History Museum -
Reuters

Part of Trump’s energy plan includes improved relations with the Saudis -
WashEx

Ellison gains key backer ahead of DNC chair vote -
NHPR

Supreme Court hears case of Mexican teen killed by U.S. border agent today defining foreigners’ access to U.S. courts -
AP

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“After Ronald Reagan was shot and Alexander Haig declared ‘I am in control.’ I looked up the complete order of succession and memorized it (with my own ridiculous mnemonic phrase) just waiting for someone to ask.  Taking a cue from Winston Churchill, I like to have a prepared response and just wait for the right question. 36 years later (and after a couple of new cabinet positions added to the list), I read your Trivia Question #7. Hmmm. Well, I got that one right. And if you ask for the following three (3) people in order every President’s Day, I should be good to go for the next 5 years. I can be patient.” – Brian Lee Wilson, Flagstaff, Ariz.

[Ed. note: Let us know, Mr. Wilson, what else you’ve been saving and we will be sure to arrange our trivia quiz thusly for 2018. Thanks for reading and taking the time to right.]

“My Dad was a stickler for wearing hats and coats…he was appalled that Kennedy doffed his hats. Dad was afraid there would be a rash of guys with colds. I, as a high school senior at 16, was happy to put my hats away in the closet. No more fedoras; cowboy hats OK (I’m a Texan). You guys do a nice job; always a good, thoughtful read.” – Paul Maxwell, Breckenridge, Colo.

[Ed. note: Thank you, Mr. Maxwell! We do aim to please. As for the death of men wearing hats as part of daily wear, I think President Kennedy gets an undue share of the either praise or blame. A grown man with an uncovered head 60 years ago probably would’ve felt a bit naked, but in the years of Kennedy’s administration and those that came after, that and so many other cultural norms were shattered. Much of men’s dress clothing can trace its roots to military attire and men echoing the rank and prestige attendant to such garb. The brass buttons on your blue blazer, your colorful striped necktie and even, yes, your hat have plenty of marshal history behind them. Within ten years of Kennedy’s assassination not just hats were gone but also many of the basic conventions of menswear. Open-collared shirts, shaggy hair, facial hair, beltless trousers and all manner of hideously ugly sandals, boots and other ghastly footwear, had invaded the American man’s style consciousness. That was not Kennedy’s fault, but rather another outward expression of the cultural upheaval taking place. We should note with appreciation, however, that after a dreadful 15 or 20 years in which adult males dressed like parking lot attendants to go to work in offices and other professional settings, suits and jackets, and sometimes even neckties, have returned and seemed to be holding their place. Looking like you care about what you’re doing can sometimes be a good first step in actually caring.]

“On Monday I was greeted at my church office with the usual coffee made by the secretary, but she out did herself this Monday and brought delicious homemade sausage balls. Now I admit that I had more than my fair share amongst the office staff, but as I walked out the door from work I realized there were still a few left. At this point would you consider the sausage balls fair game for whoever shows up to work first or does consideration for your coworkers still apply? And yes this is a Baptist church; sausage balls are a staple which appear at our many potlucks.” – Warren Rayburn, Sweeny, Texas

[Ed. note: Mr. Rayburn, I assure you that a well-made sausage ball is an ecumenical delight. In fact, if I was catering an interfaith luncheon, these would be near the top of my list – after, of course, some casserole containing some creamed soup. As to your ethical/etiquette question, if you are the last man standing, or, in this case, eating, I say you can comfortably lay claim to any savory nuggets left.]

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

‘ANY UNFAMILIAR CATTLE’
WCVB: “SUFFIELD, Conn. — Police in a Connecticut town are reminding people to not open their doors to ‘any unfamiliar cattle’ after a pair of cows escaped from their pen and were found near the front door of a home a couple of houses away. Sgt. Geoffrey Miner tells WGGB/WSHM a driver reported seeing the cows walking on the side of a road and in yards in Suffield on Sunday morning. Officers managed to take a photo of the cows before herding them back to their pen. Police posted the photo on Facebook, saying two ‘suspicious males’ were going door-to-door ‘trying to sell dairy products.’ They were ‘apprehended after a short foot pursuit.’ Police say the cows were able to escape due to a faulty electrical wire fence.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“I think what’s encouraging about [Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster] is that the book that he wrote on Vietnam, and also he was the architect, one of the intellectual architects of the surge in Iraq. In both instances he’s going against the prevailing assumptions and worldview.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.