Ira Mehlman: Democrats commit political suicide on immigration

Amidst a border crisis that has morphed into a national security and a humanitarian crisis, leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination have all but endorsed open borders.

During the first of the candidate debates, the Democrats expressed broad support for decriminalizing illegal immigration.

The candidates also expressed unanimous opposition to removing any illegal immigrant who is not also a violent felon. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has taken the same position.

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With the possible exception of former Vice President Joe Biden (whose momentary hesitation will no doubt result in another abject apology in the near future), the Democratic presidential hopefuls committed to lavish social benefits for illegal immigrants, including publicly funded health care coverage.

The first of many debates may have delighted the Democratic Party’s most animated supporters, but it is alarming many of the party’s more sober ones.

In the space of just a few days, left-leaning journalists, constitutional scholars, and even President Obama’s Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson penned opinion pieces warning that the party’s increasingly radical stances on immigration pose – for them – a nightmare scenario: Donald Trump taking the oath of office again on Jan. 20, 2021.

One might logically think that the reverse would also be true – that the Republican response to Democrats driving themselves off a cliff would be to help them do just that.

The American public – particularly those who live in swing states and congressional districts that will determine not just control of the White House, but also Congress – is alarmed about what is happening at the border.

Polls consistently show that immigration now tops the list of voter concerns and that there is strong support for securing the border, ending asylum abuse, and ending catch-and-release policies.

Republicans are in control of the Senate, where bills that would do all of those things are teed up and ready to go. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., just needs to schedule a floor debate and a vote – something he has inexplicably refrained from doing.

Getting this legislation over the 60-vote hurdle necessary to bring bills to the floor for a final vote is no easy task in the current hyperpartisan climate in Washington.

But McConnell and the Republicans are in a no-lose situation. If they can peel away a handful of purple state Democrats, they can claim credit for addressing a top-of-the-mind concern for American voters. In essence, they would force their political rivals to make a difficult choice. Do they side with concerns of the vast majority of Americans, or do they side with radicals?

Pelosi rules the House by virtue of some two-dozen members from "purple" districts. Many replaced Republican members by very slim margins.

Do these freshmen Democrats really want to go into the next election having blocked asylum reform and border security, while having increased and improved detention facilities for families and minors?

Do they want to do so with someone at the head of their party's ticket who calls for decriminalizing illegal immigration and giving everyone who shows up government-funded health insurance?

The humanitarian crisis at the border is real. The volume of illegal border crossers is overwhelming the system and creating conditions that appall Americans across the political spectrum.

Democrats, led by their most radical wing, have offered solutions that have little public support and are setting off alarm bells among thoughtful party stalwarts.

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By contrast, Republicans have solutions to the immigration crisis that do enjoy broad public support, and congressional leadership that refuses to play its strong hand.

The ever-worsening immigration crisis dictates that it is time for congressional Republicans to move decisively on sensible border enforcement and asylum reform. Democrats have opened the door for them if they are willing to act on behalf of the American people and common sense.

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