Politics & Policy

Democrats Propose Lawlessness and Call It Immigration Policy

Border Patrol agents detain illegal immigrants near McCallen, Tx., August 7, 2015. (John Moore/Getty)

On immigration, as on so much else, the Democrats have become the party of Obama — only more so.

Because Wednesday’s debate was co-hosted by Spanish-language network Univision, and the questioning spearheaded by Jorge Ramos, an immigration activist masquerading as a journalist, there was little doubt that the evening would feature what Hillary Clinton’s detractors have derisively labeled “Hispandering.” But Clinton and her remaining challenger, Bernie Sanders, effectively promised an end to American immigration law.

Clinton had previously affirmed her support for President Obama’s massive exercises in “prosecutorial discretion,” DACA and DAPA, both flagrantly unconstitutional amnesties covering together some 5 million people. However, prodded by Ramos, Clinton promised not only that she would not deport children — an assurance that every “unaccompanied minor” who has crossed the southern border in the past few years would be permitted to stay — but that she would not deport anyone without a criminal record, period, guaranteeing a permanent home to almost every illegal immigrant residing in the country, and effectively reducing crossing the border illegally to a minor and ignorable infraction. Clinton also reiterated an earlier commitment to somehow reunite families separated by deportation. With all of this, Sanders concurred.

For both Clinton and Sanders, these policies are part of a “comprehensive immigration reform” that aims to grant a path to citizenship for all illegal immigrants already living in the United States. Neither of them addressed directly whether citizenship should be extended to the millions of immigrants who are certain to cross into the country during the course of a Clinton or Sanders administration, although Clinton seemed to swat away the objection on the grounds that that problem would not arise. “We have the most secure border we’ve ever had,” she said. “That part of the work is done.” This is pure delusion. Ask a Border Patrol agent.

#share#Unsurprisingly, the immigration portion of the debate operated exclusively in the realm of sentiment. The hosts did not ask questions about, and the candidates did not proffer answers to, the serious logistical or economic issues related to these proposals. The only occasion on which they even broached the economic consequences of immigration was when co-host Maria Elena Salinas confronted Sanders about his 2007 statement that permitting more guest workers would “drive wages down” for American workers. Predictably, Sanders tried desperately to distance himself from one of his few sound opinions.

#related#Donald Trump’s bombast has made it easier for Democrats to portray Republicans as wild-eyed radicals on the subject of immigration, and themselves as modest and “compassionate.” In fact, Wednesday’s debate indicates that a Democratic president would be the truly radical one, effectively abrogating by fiat a whole swath of American law.

The alternative is simple and entirely reasonable: enforcing laws already on the books, implementing E-Verify nationwide, increasing penalties for visa overstays, erecting physical barriers along the border, and cracking down on sanctuary cities. There is a middle way between the ill-informed theatrics of Trump and the lawlessness of the Democrats, and it is imperative that the GOP take it.

The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

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