Andrew Sullivan on the Democrats and immigration

In his weekly column in New York Magazine, Andrew Sullivan, inexorably moving leftwards, still chastises Democrats for failing to deal with immigration—something that Trump is making hay out of as the caravan from Central American inevitably heads northwards. Sullivan notes that the Democratic failure is promoting authoritarianism in the U.S. and putting a strain on liberal democracy, but not because of the burden of immigrants. It’s because the electorate sees illegal immigration as a problem, and until the Democrats address it one way or the other, and do so explicitly, the public, thinking Dems are in favor of open borders, are going to support Trump. Here’s his piece (click on screenshot). Read the whole thing, and you’ll see that Sullivan favors humane immigration laws, despises Trump’s policies, and abhors separating children from their families.

His analysis takes national sentiment about immigration as a given, but for the time being that’s something we simply must deal with. I’ll leave you with Andrew’s words, with which I agree, especially the bit in bold:

All of it is putting unprecedented strain on liberal democracy in the West itself. The connection between mass migration and the surge in far-right parties in Europe is now indisputable. Without this issue, Donald Trump would not be president. As we can see right now in front of our eyes, elections can turn on this. Which is why Trump is hyping this caravan story to the heavens — and why, perhaps, the last few weeks have seemed less promising for a “blue wave.” David Frum is right: “If liberals insist that only fascists will defend borders, then voters will hire fascists to do the job liberals will not do.” And unless the Democrats get a grip on this question, and win back the trust of the voters on it, their chance of regaining the presidency is minimal. Until one Democratic candidate declares that he or she will end illegal immigration, period, shift legal immigration toward those with skills, invest in the immigration bureaucracy, and enforce the borders strongly but humanely, Trump will continue to own this defining policy issue in 2020.

This is not a passing crisis. It is the new normal, and its optics do nothing but intensify the cultural panic that is turning much of the West to authoritarianism as a response. The porousness of the West’s borders are, in other words, becoming a guarantee of the West’s liberal democratic demise. This particular caravan will take a while to make it to the U.S. border, if it ever does. It will surely lose some followers on the way. It may peter out altogether.

But the caravan as a symbol? Its days are just beginning.

h/t: Simon


  1. GBJames
    Posted October 26, 2018 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    I’ve seen this argument before. It essentially blames Democrats for failing to deal with immigration reform when, in fact, the Republican Party has systematically blocked efforts to address this in Congress for years.

    I don’t think we move ahead by asking Democrats to, in effect, demand that we build a wall that Mexico will pay for.

    • Adam M.
      Posted October 26, 2018 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      I think it’s hard to deny that, whatever they may quietly do in Congress, Democrats in speeches, debates, etc. are loath to say that illegal immigration is a problem or anything like that. And the article is really about the public perception.

      • GBJames
        Posted October 26, 2018 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

        Except that illegal immigration really isn’t much of a problem. It is a boogie man that is nurtured by Republicans to scare voters. Climbing on board the Fear Train isn’t warranted, despite public perceptions nurtured by Fox News.

        • Posted October 26, 2018 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

          Agreed but it is the fact that so many voters do care about immigration that has to be recognized. I view legal immigration policy as a bigger problem than illegal immigration. We have to find a way to let smart people to come the US for an education and stay if they want to. Still, Dems have to admit that supporting illegal immigration does not respect for the rule of law. It isn’t a huge problem for the reason conservatives claim but still needs fixing.

          • GBJames
            Posted October 26, 2018 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

            That’s bogus, however, because Democrats don’t support illegal immigration. Not panicking over small problems is only “support” in the minds of Republican propagandists and their followers.

            Besides, we’re not even talking about illegal immigration. We’re talking about people fleeing horrible circumstances who have a legal right to seek asylum.

            • Posted October 26, 2018 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

              I agree, Dems don’t support illegal immigration. But when a conservative says, “I’m really concerned about illegal immigration!”, “Yes, let’s fix it” seems like a better response than “You are wrong. It’s really a small problem.”

              • GBJames
                Posted October 26, 2018 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

                “Yes, let’s fix it” is a dishonest response.

              • Posted October 26, 2018 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

                How is it dishonest? Dems do want to fix illegal immigration, right? I thought we all agreed on that. There’s only a few crazies who want truly open borders.

              • GBJames
                Posted October 27, 2018 at 8:58 am | Permalink

                It is dishonest in this sense…

                Offering to correct a problem that you don’t think is a problem is, IMO, a kind of a lie. Moreover, it presumes that you agree on the nature of the “problem” and that a “fix” can be made.

                I don’t think there is a “fix” for the “problem” imagined by the American right wing. Their primary motivation, as I see it, is racial animus. They are very often unwilling to even differentiate legal from illegal crossing. They are threatened by women and children who try to legally seek asylum.

                Saying “Yes, let’s fix it” is not an honest response in this situation because it leads to false agreement. “You are wrong. It’s really a small problem.” is the honest response.

              • Posted October 27, 2018 at 10:44 am | Permalink

                Dems are not disputing that illegal immigration is, well, illegal. They certainly uphold the rule of law. This means that both sides agree that illegal immigration is a problem, they just differ in their estimation of its severity and, therefore, the priority of fixing it. It is not comprising Dem values to allow the priority to be changed. Instead, it is the mildest form of bipartisanship.

              • GBJames
                Posted October 27, 2018 at 11:01 am | Permalink

                That “mildest form of bipartisanship” has been tried. Repeatedly. It doesn’t work because only one party is willing to act in a bipartisan fashion.

              • Posted October 27, 2018 at 11:22 am | Permalink

                Are you suggesting Dems adopt Republican tactics and make winning elections the only priority? I doubt we would want to live in the country that would result.

                It is better to hope that the US is going through a phase that will end soon. People will remember the failure of Trump and want to avoid repeating it, at least for a while. At the same time, the Left has also gone through a period of failure. As a recent poll suggests, a majority of people in the US really do hate political correctness. The Dems really have misplayed their hand in several ways. Clinton was a terrible candidate — not anywhere near as bad as Trump but not good. Things do swing back.

                This is what makes WEIT’s battle against the worst excesses of the Left so important. The Left has to clean its own house.

              • GBJames
                Posted October 27, 2018 at 11:57 am | Permalink

                I’m not suggesting that Dems adopt Republican tactics. I’m only demanding that we not fall for false equivalence arguments. I’m refusing to accept the argument that Democrats are responsible for the extremism of the Republican Party.

              • Posted October 27, 2018 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

                On that we agree.

        • clarkia
          Posted October 26, 2018 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

          Where I live (southern US) most of the low-wage jobs in certain sectors seem to be taken largely by illegals. How is this not a problem?

          • Posted October 26, 2018 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

            You say “certain sectors” but are they jobs that legal US residents desire? That’s an important question.

            • BJ
              Posted October 27, 2018 at 10:39 am | Permalink

              I have personally seen warehouses — the types of warehouses that are exactly like those where I know other US citizens work — staffed entirely by illegal immigrants. Yes, there are many, many jobs that are being done by illegal immigrants that US citizens want to do and actually do when they have the chance.

              And, even if it wasn’t about jobs (even though it is for many people), having millions of people try to enter the country illegally and having many of them succeed every year for an indeterminate amount of time into the future is also an issue of sovereignty, government funds/taxes, cost/benefit to the economy/society/communities, and many, many other things you’re not considering.

              • Posted October 27, 2018 at 11:09 am | Permalink

                So many straw men, so little time! I’ve said many times here, as have others, that Dems want to fix illegal immigration. All those things you claim I’m not considering, I have considered and find them to be much less a problem than Republicans would like us to believe. They should still be fixed but not with stupid walls and separating children at borders.

              • BJ
                Posted October 27, 2018 at 11:22 am | Permalink

                I guess I’m confused. You’re one of the more reasonable people in the comments on this post. But in some comments, you seem to imply that immigration is a very small problem that isn’t particularly important, and in other comments you talk about the issues it causes. I’m not really sure how to respond anymore because I’m not sure I understand your position on all of this.

                Anyway, nothing I said was a “straw man.” They’re all true things; the only question is whether or not you consider them important and, by extension, consider it important to do something about illegal immigration and for the Dems to propose how to do it and talk openly about it.

              • Posted October 27, 2018 at 11:34 am | Permalink

                Assuming you were replying to me, the straw man I was referring to is your implication that Dems are against dealing with illegal immigration. That’s just false.

              • BJ
                Posted October 27, 2018 at 11:47 am | Permalink

                Yes, this was a misunderstanding. I didn’t mention the Dems in that comment. I would say the Dems are extremely reluctant to do or propose anything that would reduce immigration and/or talk about it as a problem in general. They probably would like to do “something,” but they don’t want to talk about it, and they don’t want to take a firm stance against illegal immigration. And this is for political reasons, rather than policy reasons.

          • Randy Bessinger
            Posted October 26, 2018 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

            You must of missed the Frontline program a few years ago. One of the points was a crackdown on one the states illegals working I believe it was watermelon fields. All the illegals left for other states and the farmers coukd not get legals to pick the watermelons even at higher wages. States quietly changed the laws back.

            • Michael Waterhouse
              Posted October 26, 2018 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

              So having shit jobs that no one will do justifies illegal immigration?

              They will do ubearable work because of fear, and that’s OK?

              Someone will pick watermelons if the pay is enough.

              Not just ‘higher’, enough.

              • Posted October 26, 2018 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

                There are certain kinds of jobs that are apparently too onerous for non-immigrant U.S. citizens to take, that immigrants, whether legal or illegal, will take. Agricultural field work of numerous kinds, work on mega-cattle/hog/chicken farms, meat processing plants, fruit and vegetable processing plants, shrimping, lobster picking, carpentry, hotel/motel cleaners, restaurant jobs from chefs to waiters and cleaners, etc. These, and many more jobs, that are unlikely to be filled otherwise.

                Even Trump bemoaned the fact that he couldn’t find 35 +/- employees for Mar-a-Lago and felt it necessary to make special arrangements for legal immigrants to come work.

                We used to have a legal arrangement for “braceros” to come work in the U.S. We need something similar again, but across a broader spectrum of work.

                And, if our government is going to crackdown on immigration it’s essential that republicans and democrats work together to come up with a permanent solution, a
                process that works better, doesn’t separate kids from parents, doesn’t divide the responsibility among various departments each of which doesn’t know what the other is doing and can’t seem to coordinate. How can we lose children? How can we deport parents without their children? We also should not be using military-types or prison-guard types
                on private industry contracts to “care” for children.

                It’s a cluster-you-know-what.

              • a-non
                Posted October 27, 2018 at 3:47 am | Permalink

                Or it simply won’t happen, and watermelons will become an imported luxury.

                Or someone will invent a machine, but the R&D cost is engineers on 1st-world salaries, which is less likely to pay off if competing against pickers on 3rd-world salaries.

            • Adam M.
              Posted October 26, 2018 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

              I wonder how much higher those wages were. Increased from half minimum wage to minimum wage? 😛 I’m sure there’s a price at which Americans would do the jobs. Maybe watermelons just need to cost a little more so pickers can earn a decent wage.

              In fact, I saw a report showing that according to census data, of the several hundred occupations recognized by the government, none were majority illegal immigrant, four were majority immigrant, and even those were only barely so, with Americans still 47% of the work in those jobs.

              So I’m not sure there really are jobs Americans just won’t do.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted October 26, 2018 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

                There ARE jobs that most Americans will not do & for good reason – the expectation today is a job with minimum wage or better & some perks. McDonald’s Restaurants in the UK is where I would set the bar at the lowest – where the perks are private medical insurance for all hourly paid employees after three years’ service and salaried staff after six months’ service. It’s something…

                Problems with fruit farmwork

                ** Fruit picking is seasonal

                ** Get paid by the tray or bucket – minimum wage doesn’t come into it because it’s piece work manual labour

                ** No union protection – you’re there at the good grace of the agency that supplied you to the farmer

                ** No medical insurance

                ** If something goes wrong – good luck with collecting compensation from the agency

                ** piece work rates are determined [after the agency gets a finding/management fee] by the supermarkets. The supermarkets play suppliers off against each other & reserve the right to not accept perfectly good fruit that happen to be the ‘wrong’ size or are an ‘ugly’ shape. If the supplier makes a fuss they’re gone instantly – losing a big customer is bankrupting. In this climate workers are at the absolute bottom of the pecking order!

                ** US suppliers of many fruits [& nuts] are competing with less regulated foreign suppliers who can pay workers the equivalent of $1/hr or less.

                Next time you’re buying foods check out the country of origin & it’s a shocker. The heavy supermarket price wars in the UK [which is a saturated customer market] obliges the retailers to drop perfectly satisfactory UK suppliers, with a long history with the retailer, & go to China – all to save 3% here & 5% there. All this price shaving has created a huge food counterfeiting industry: Basmati rice that ain’t, olive oils that ain’t, liqueur & wine that ain’t what the label says, nuts that aren’t what they say – instead a closely related & less domesticated cheaper nut is supplied [china does this a lot], condemned meat repackaged & sold for human consumption, horse meat sold as beef, long list here continues – workers do not matter at all

                It is really, really tough to be an unskilled worker [or semi-skilled] in this age of zero hour contracts.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted October 26, 2018 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

                I’d also like to point out that your Google search link is viewer search history & locale dependent. I don’t see anything like what you see in the US at that link – better to supply a link to one source.

              • Posted October 27, 2018 at 3:12 am | Permalink

                Off topic and for Michael:

                “The supermarkets play suppliers off against each other & reserve the right to not accept perfectly good fruit that happen to be the ‘wrong’ size or are an ‘ugly’ shape.”

                I just learned last night from my daughter about Imperfect Produce based in San Francisco that sells and delivers wrong size and ugly fruits and vegetables, organic or not, as preferred.


              • Michael Fisher
                Posted October 27, 2018 at 9:15 am | Permalink

                Ah yes. Thank you. The rise of ugly veg & fruit is most heartening – we have the same sort of movement over here with activists shaming supermarkets for their practises. All but two or three UK chains home deliver & HERE IS WonkyBox – an example of ugly duckling delivery by a supermarket.

              • clarkia
                Posted October 27, 2018 at 9:14 am | Permalink

                I can not think of any examples of jobs that domestics would not do at the right price. If illegals were not here, wages or other benefits would have to rise. This seems basic economics.

                As an example with fruit picking, a long time ago I worked a seasonal profession (tree planting). Many of the workers (all legal) would switch to fruit picking once the tree planting season ended. However, doing so was becoming rarer at the time because illegals were driving the wages for fruit picking downwards.

              • Posted October 27, 2018 at 10:58 am | Permalink

                I think it is easy to see the economics here. If we eliminated all the illegal immigrant farm workers, it would generate a sequence of forces:

                1. There wouldn’t be enough workers available at immigrants’ low wages to pick the crops.

                2. Wages would be pushed up in order to attract legal workers.

                3. The higher cost of production would be passed on to the consumer as higher prices for produce.

                4. Higher prices for domestic produce would make imports from countries with lower wages more attractive.

                5. Consumption of domestic produce would be reduced.

                6. America also exports a lot of produce and that business would dry up because prices wouldn’t be competitive.

                7. Farms would downsize or disappear.

                8. The American economy would be hurt.

            • BJ
              Posted October 27, 2018 at 10:37 am | Permalink

              IO have personally seen warehouses — the types of warehouses that are exactly like those where I know other US citizens work — staffed entirely by illegal immigrants. Yes, there are many, many jobs that are being done by illegal immigrants that US citizens want to do and actually do when they have the chance.

              Frontline just told you about watermelon picking, but there happen to be many more jobs out there. Watermelons are not exactly our biggest export.

        • Michael Waterhouse
          Posted October 26, 2018 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

          It’s a problem in Australia.
          And I bet it’s a problem for those jumping through hoops to do things legally.

    • Taz
      Posted October 26, 2018 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      Republican politician’s attitude about immigration is similar to their attitude about abortion – they’d rather have the issue than the solution.

  2. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted October 26, 2018 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if Sullivan is moving leftward or if the Republican party is moving rightward.

    Wikipedia reports “In 2003, he [Sullivan-JLH] wrote he was no longer able to support the American conservative movement, as he was disaffected with the Republican Party’s continued rightward drift on social issues during the George W. Bush era.”

    He has consistently been equally critical of what he regarded as liberal hyperbole (one of his examples being Michael Moore) and the intemperate right (two of his chief examples were Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter).

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 26, 2018 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    … Sullivan favors humane immigration laws, despises Trump’s policies, and abhors separating children from their families.

    I would expect no less from any reasonable, thoughtful person.

    Trump is demagoguing this “caravan” stuff to the max, with blatant falsehoods that it contains “unknown Middle Easterners,” in an effort to gin up his base in advance of the midterms.

    • Mark R.
      Posted October 26, 2018 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      I’m sure that Trump is pissed that the mail bombs have taken over the scary brown caravan for the last few days. Will the media move back to it? At first only FOX was covering the migrants, but then the rest of MSM tagged along. At least CNN had reporters down there humanizing the action of these asylum seekers. It was no surprise that when the group hit the Mexico boarder, FOX made it seem like they were at the US border. Their chyron repeated: “Caravan at southern boarder”.

      • Mark R.
        Posted October 26, 2018 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

        “border”…must have surfing on the brain. 😉

    • Harrison
      Posted October 26, 2018 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      He’s also making a grand show of dispatching National Guard troops to the border IMMEDIATELY even though the caravan is 1100 miles away. It’s the most transparent pre-election stunt one could imagine.

      • Mark R.
        Posted October 26, 2018 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

        And the average day’s travel is 20 miles, so 55 days away. Go get ’em Army! It’s a pathetic and desperate stunt.

  4. Posted October 26, 2018 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Totally agree and have felt this way for decades. This needs to be fixed. If Dem leaders were smart, they would put up a good plan against Trump’s totally bogus caravan escapade. It is a perfect opportunity for Dems to gain the upper hand with this issue, demonstrating that they can govern in an adult manner, while Trump and Repubs focus on scare tactics, lies, and putting children in cages.

  5. W.T. Effingham
    Posted October 26, 2018 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Many surveys I’ve received in my “Promotions” box ask for one-word descriptions of the Orangu one. I try to vary my responses. Next time, I’m considering: Gantryesque.👿

    • Mark R.
      Posted October 26, 2018 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      Subtle to be sure, but I like it!

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 26, 2018 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, Lonesome Rhodes with an outer-borough accent comes to mind, too — though I suppose that exceeds the applicable word limit. 🙂

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 26, 2018 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Sullivan makes the common error in discussing US immigration policy of focusing exclusively on crossings at the southwest border. About half of the people in the US illegally are those who entered legally but overstayed their visas.

    The image of dusky hordes pouring over the border may be useful to the Trumpists in stirring up nativist sentiment, but it does nothing to promote rational thought and discussion regarding commonsense comprehensive immigration reform.

    • Posted October 26, 2018 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      We still have “hordes” of various colors coming in by ship. And, I have no doubt that
      people from all over the world who are desperate enough will obtain illegal documents or use other methods to make it over the borders. Illegal immigrants are not only from the south.

  7. revelator60
    Posted October 26, 2018 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Others have already poked holes in sulivan’s argument. I will add a recent Atlantic article that makes the case that Trump and the Republicans’ strategy for the midterms is Identity Politics for whites:

    Against this sort of demagoguery, Sullivan wants Democrats to engage in posturing (“end illegal immigration, period”? Sounds about as feasible as winning a war on terrorism). What Democrats need to do is remind the electorate of the immigration laws they have repeatedly tried to pass and which the Republicans repeatedly thwarted.

    • Posted October 26, 2018 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      I hear what you are saying but I think Dems have to continue to do their best to solve the immigration problem as if the other party was interested in cooperation. At the same time, they need to remind all that there have been several bi-partisan proposals on the table which Trump and other Republicans have rejected without much real interest in negotiating a successful conclusion. In general, Dems need to more forcefully push home Republicans failure to govern.

  8. BJ
    Posted October 26, 2018 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    The US has one of the most open immigration laws among first-world nations. Canada, for example, allows far fewer immigrants, and uses a points system to decide who is allowed to enter. I don’t see why the US shouldn’t do the same, to try and bring in immigrants who are most likely to positively impact things innovation, prosperity, and society. Of course, like Canada, there should also be allowances for refugees and those who are fleeing oppression.

    The Democrats really do need to take a stand, and a firmer one than they have previously. They need to be willing to say that they are committed to stopping illegal immigration and propose solutions. This is the same problem Democrats have had for the last few years on many issues: they do not offer coherent policies that speak to the needs, fears, and concerns of the citizenry. Perhaps the greatest reason Trump won was because he spoke to the economic fears of many people in sectors like manufacturing, and to the many people who have lost jobs already, and the many people who have seen their wages stagnate. The policies he offered were utter shit, but he offered them with a full-throated fervency and, perhaps more importantly, he did not impugn those many people who have fears about issues like illegal immigration not out of racism, but out of economic insecurity. Contrast this with Hillary’s “basket of deplorables” comment, and the Democrats’ continued strategy of saying that anyone who wants stricter immigration controls or disagrees on other issues is a x-ist and/or x-phobic.

    • yazikus
      Posted October 26, 2018 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      Contrast this with Hillary’s “basket of deplorables” comment, and the Democrats’ continued strategy of saying that anyone who wants stricter immigration controls or disagrees on other issues is a x-ist and/or x-phobic.

      I maintain that Clinton’s comment there was a fair assessment. That said, regarding the latter part of your comment, there is really something to this. I was talking to a women after we both participated in a survey and both came away bothered by what we felt were biased questions. Now, we are on very, very opposite sides of the political spectrum. She’s a Trump voter, a huge Pence fan, etc. Apparently, there was a question asking if you had ‘far right’ views, such as wanting the wall to get built or wanting to ban abortion or favoring bathroom laws, etc. She was quite indignant about it, saying that just because she agreed with those things did not make her ‘far right’. She considers herself a moderate. (She is not a moderate). She would say she is not racist. (She is pretty racist). She would say that she has ‘economic insecurity’. She is not economically insecure.

      Where am I going with all of that? I’m trying to parse what I see as a phenomenon of the far right being offended at being called the far right (because society at large looks down on some of those far right ideals) but still maintaining those extreme views. So while they may claim it was all economic insecurity and not racism, talk with some of these folks and it comes right out that their fears are race-based. When we start tiptoeing around to not offend them by accurately labeling their ideas as extreme, we feed into their delusion that they are not extreme.

      • GBJames
        Posted October 26, 2018 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        I have to say I think you’re view is closer to reality than what BJ expresses.

        • yazikus
          Posted October 26, 2018 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

          My favorite example of this is Arlene’s Flowers. She had a customer who was gay. Made flowers for him for years. When he wanted her to do the wedding, she told him no, because Jesus. (I’m paraphrasing slightly). She was being discriminatory, she told the customer that she was being discriminatory, and why, but she objects to being called a bigot.

          • BJ
            Posted October 26, 2018 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

            Again, you’re pulling out one person. An example. This does not somehow translate to every person who supported Trump or, more importantly, supported him because they felt the Dems/Hillary weren’t addressing their concerns, nor taking them seriously as people, nor even considering them good people who they should be concerned about. If we want to continue to treat every single Republican and person who supports various Republican policies and proposals as if they’re the people you guys are talking about, we can be sure we’ll never get them back to our side and we’ll continue to further polarize this country and strengthen its tribalism.

            • yazikus
              Posted October 26, 2018 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

              I picked that one person because it was a well publicized case. In your other comment you said:

              Nearly every Republican I know is not like the lady with whom you’re acquainted;

              This may be your perception, but how sure of it are you? Have you asked them how they feel about these topics?

              • BJ
                Posted October 26, 2018 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

                Yes, we discuss politics all the time. Most of them also think Trump is an embarrassment on the world stage and is doing long-term harm to our country’s reputation and relationships.

              • BJ
                Posted October 26, 2018 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

                But that wasn’t really my point. My point was that there are millions of Republicans and Trump voters who Democrats are grouping into the “basket of deplorables,” and those Republicans and Trump voters (and, hell, even quite a few independents who didn’t vote, or voted for Hillary, but support some Trump policies) (1) don’t deserve to be placed in that group, and (2) are just being further alienated.

              • GBJames
                Posted October 27, 2018 at 9:09 am | Permalink

                I’m sorry, BJ, but if these friends of yours think Trump is an embarrassment and is doing long-term damage to the country, and still support him, they belong in the basket. Such folk may use the “basket” attribution as a justification for hating Democrats, but they have much deeper motivations than that.

                Do you honestly think that is the reason they support Trump?

                If small slurs like this actually were the motivation, they would be strong Democrats after the decades of far worse that spews regularly from Republican propaganda sources.

              • Posted October 27, 2018 at 10:44 am | Permalink


              • BJ
                Posted October 27, 2018 at 10:18 am | Permalink

                James, you’re not listening. I don’t know how else to say it. They support certain policies. They hate hin.

                If you’re a utilitarian and have two candidates, you pick the one who you think will do the least damage and, for simplicity’s sake, let’s say those two considerations for amount of damage are public speaking/behavior and policy. If you think the person who supports the few positions and policies that are important to you, you may think they’re still worth voting for over the other candidate, who doesn’t care about you or what you want but will speak and behave well.

                In other words, not only did I repeatedly not say that these people necessarily support Trump, but also, even if they did, they still don’t deserve your judgment.

                That is, unless you think Democrats should be blamed for everything Antifa and the far-Left does, since the Dems have been stoking racial tension and ID politics. But I imagine you don’t think so.

              • GBJames
                Posted October 27, 2018 at 10:57 am | Permalink

                I’m listening fine, BJ. I just don’t buy the notion that people who support Trump’s policies but claim to not like him personally are remotely “convincible”. And I think it is, frankly, ridiculous to argue that the only thing keeping them from voting for Democrats is the “deplorable” comment.

                They like Trump’s policies. That’s deplorable.

              • Posted October 27, 2018 at 11:13 am | Permalink

                I agree. And the deplorable part of Trump is not his womanizing and overall depravity but the fact that he lies all the time, doesn’t understand the job or reason from facts, makes him completely unfit for office. Anyone who can ignore that really is some kind of deplorable.

              • BJ
                Posted October 27, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

                You’re right, James, they can’t possibly have their minds changed. Many of them switched from two years of vcting for Obama to voting for Trump because of a magic mind ray used by the Trump campaign. It definitely wasn’t because they felt the Dems weren’t addressing their concerns. They had their minds switched once, but they can’t possibly be switched back.

                You’re also obviously right that anyone who supports any policy proposed by someone who is deplorable must be deplorable themselves, even though they don’t support the person proposing the policy.

                This is tribalism at its finest.

              • Davide Spinello
                Posted October 27, 2018 at 11:22 am | Permalink

                I agree. And the deplorable part of Trump is not his womanizing and overall depravity but the fact that he lies all the time, doesn’t understand the job or reason from facts, makes him completely unfit for office. Anyone who can ignore that really is some kind of deplorable.

                Imagine you are concerned about college campus kangaroo courts in the year 2016. Is it rational to vote for Clinton or for Trump?

                What Trump has done with the EPA is indefensible. What Trump (actually DeVos) is trying to do with Title IX is rational and necessary, while a Clinton administration would have double and then quadrupled down on the current Kafkian disaster for pure ideological reasons. If you are concerned about specific issues you may decide to vote for a candidate that is morally reprehensible in many aspects but that you perceive as the one that will implement policies that you like.

                Additionally, the Clintons were in no position of moralizing about sexual misconduct.

              • Posted October 27, 2018 at 11:36 am | Permalink

                “Additionally, the Clintons were in no position of moralizing about sexual misconduct.”

                And Trump and his administration are?

              • GBJames
                Posted October 27, 2018 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

                Two things, BJ…

                1) I react to being called “James” similarly to hour our host reacts to being called “Coyne”.

                2) The number of voters who changed from Obama to Trump is greatly exaggerated and often masked by differences in voter turnout from the two sides.

              • Davide Spinello
                Posted October 27, 2018 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

                @ Paul

                I am not sure why you ask. Trump is in no position, but the day after the infamous audio “grab them by the p%**y” came out, all he had to do was to go on TV with a few women “involved” with Bill Clinton. At that point Hillary had to shut up about that topic.

                The Pavlovian reaction “ok but Trump” is tiring. We know “but Trump”, but we can learn some lesson perhaps instead of keeping moralizing.

              • BJ
                Posted October 27, 2018 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

                (1) I didn’t know that’show you react to James. What should I call you in the future?

                (2) That’s the first time I mentioned those swing voters. But you realize there are far more people than just them who you can convince to vote for the other side, right? Young people who are just forming their political opinions, independents, people who don’t vote regularly but might in the future. Further, you still don’t want to alienate everybody who you consider beyond recruiting. And finally, for all the talk of how Trump is further dividing America, the Dems and Dem-leaning media is sure doing a good job helping that process along as well.

              • GBJames
                Posted October 27, 2018 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

                Heh… GBJames? Or Mr. James if you must. And I promise not to call you “J”.

                I’ll leave it there. I find the “both sides do it” pitch to be extremely weak tea.

            • Posted October 27, 2018 at 1:41 am | Permalink

              And lose elections.

        • Posted October 27, 2018 at 1:40 am | Permalink

          And when taken as basis for propaganda, this is a recipe for losing elections. The far-right (which, by the standards presented here, includes the majority of population of any country known to me) also have voting rights.

      • Posted October 26, 2018 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

        Clinton’s “deplorables” statement falls into the “not wrong but not a good idea to say out loud” category. It is too dismissive without saying exactly what makes them deplorable. It is better to attack bad ideas that the deplorables may have and show why they are bad or mistaken. Of course, Trump has no problem labelling his enemies without being specific, or making up the specifics. It works if you are willing to 100% commit to being a lying POS.

        • BJ
          Posted October 26, 2018 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

          The problem was that Hillary threw everyone who held certain views or was thinking of voting for Trump into that basket. There are many people who voted for Obama twice, but then voted for Trump. There are lifelong Republicans, of whom I know many, who are good people who simply disagree with me on policy.

          Hillary said that half of Trump’s supporters were part of that “basket.” She didn’t say who. All the Republicans I know certainly were pretty pissed, because they’re not deplorable people. And they’re also not the other things she said that night: “Speaking at the LGBT for Hillary Gala in New York City on Sept. 9, 2016, Clinton said that Trump’s supporters were ‘racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic.’ Trump said the remarks showed “her true contempt for everyday Americans.”

          So, she didn’t even just call half of all the people supporting Trump deplorable, she said that each and every one of them were “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic.” It’s both a stupid thing to say and it’s not true.

          • Posted October 26, 2018 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

            I think it was deplorable to vote for someone who was clearly unqualified for the job in terms of education, temperament, and character. Still, as I said, calling them “deplorable” was not in Clinton’s interest. I really didn’t like Clinton either but my complaints are small quibbles in the context of Trump.

        • Michael Waterhouse
          Posted October 26, 2018 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

          ‘Deplorable’ is quite an exteme slur.

          One most easily cast by those riding the most high of moral high horses.

          The ‘good’ ones.

          Obviously the ‘good’ ones know who they are and are certain of their right to judge.

          But, some disagree, and it shows.

          As it should.

          • Posted October 26, 2018 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

            You must not get out much if you think “deplorable” is an extreme slur. Next time my neighbor lets his dog crap on my front lawn, I’m going to tell him, “That’s deplorable sir!” Should be good for a laugh.

        • Posted October 27, 2018 at 1:43 am | Permalink

          And it would be even better for Clinton to try and explain to the “deplorables” why HER ideas were good.

          • Posted October 27, 2018 at 10:35 am | Permalink

            No, because the deplorables she was referring to are Trump’s core followers who, presumably, would never vote for her.

            • Davide Spinello
              Posted October 27, 2018 at 11:25 am | Permalink

              Because she is in the position of moralizing.

        • a-non
          Posted October 27, 2018 at 3:52 am | Permalink

          > Clinton’s “deplorables” statement falls into the “not wrong but not a good idea to say out loud” category

          No it’s stronger than this. Whether or not this has some objective truth, if you believe this, then you have no business standing to be their democratically elected representative.

          It’s fine for the Tsar to think this peasants are revolting. But that wasn’t the job being applied for (thankfully).

      • Mark R.
        Posted October 26, 2018 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

        I also maintain that Clinton’s comment was a fair assessment. Now more than ever.

        • Posted October 26, 2018 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

          Yes, but she gets no points for it. Just the way the world works.

        • Michael Waterhouse
          Posted October 26, 2018 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

          I disagree.
          I think it is stricly in line with the lefts penchant for catagorizeing differences of opinion as one extreme negative trope or another.
          Fascist, Nazi, sexist, racist, deplorable…, and so on.

          • Mark R.
            Posted October 26, 2018 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

            So, separating families at the border, banning Muslim refugees, the general disparagement of minorities, attacking women (while supporting people like Roy Moore and Kavanaugh), attacking LGBTQ rights, attacking the FBI and the intelligence community, firing Comey to staunch the Mueller investigation, dismissing said investigation, attacking the press (unless they kiss Trump’s ass), trying to take healthcare away from millions, dismantling environmental safeguards, dismantling consumer safeguards, siding with despots over traditional allies, disregarding the emoluments clause, failing to condemn the alt-right and people associated with it, blowing-up DACA, giving massive tax breaks to the rich and corporations, Nurembergesque campaign rallies (paid by taxpayers to boot!)…all this is somehow not related to fascism/Nazism, sexism, racism, or deplorable actions? And it is simply a difference of opinion? What have I missed…or rather, what have you missed?

            • BJ
              Posted October 26, 2018 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

              WHat you’ve missed is that not everyone in your outgroup agrees with everything you just mentioned. That’s been the point of this entire conversation. If we tried to place every bad decision and idea of the Democrats, their supporters, their activist wing, and their academic stronghold at the feet of everyone who votes and/or supports Democrats, that would be a very silly idea. It’s the same thing here.

            • Michael Fisher
              Posted October 26, 2018 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

              BJ & Paul Topping are talking about realpolitik – the art of the possible & doable – and unfortunately they are right. For Democrats to be a force it is necessary for them to craft their language to appeal to the undecideds who only understand the rather dishonest, scaremongering, divisive terminology of the right when it comes to bogeymen caravans – the contemporary iteration of Russians with snow still on their boots & ‘Chinks’ burrowing up through the Earth to invade. The repubs are ‘all in’ on hate basically.

              Democrats will not win on a platform of righting injustices – strong words & oversimplistic declarations re what to do about ‘illegal’ immigrants are now the order of the day. Or lose.

      • BJ
        Posted October 26, 2018 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

        If you want to simplify things significantly, we can say there are two groups of people who voted for Trump: a far-Right base, and the people I described. You can pry away the people I described. Nearly every Republican I know is not like the lady with whom you’re acquainted; in fact, only one of them even opposes abortion. Regarding building a wall: it’s easy to understand why people who worry about immigration and feel (largely rightly) that nothing is being done want a wall to be built. Having that view doesn’t make one racist or far-Right.

        If you throw every person who voted for Trump and/or is a registered Republican into the group you’re describing, we’ll continue to have the same problem.

        GBJames below says that your view is “closer to reality,” but neither view is if one’s talking about every Trump voter.

        • yazikus
          Posted October 26, 2018 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

          Nearly every Republican I know is not like the lady with whom you’re acquainted

          If you feel comfortable sharing, are you in a predominantly conservative or liberal community?

          I just relocated to the blue side of my state after years and years in a crimson pocket. In that town (the red one) most people were republicans. Were they all KKK-style racist? Heck no. But many were casually racist. Many would be pro-choice (for themselves) but would espouse views about wanting to limit abortion access because ‘irresponsible choices’ etc. Just as with any sort of behavior, there is a scale.

          • BJ
            Posted October 26, 2018 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

            I’d say we’re half and half. But, as I said in my response to your other comment above (you haven’t hide time to read it yet), this isn’t really the point. My point was that there are millions of Republicans and Trump voters who Democrats are grouping into the “basket of deplorables,” and those Republicans and Trump voters (and, hell, even quite a few independents who didn’t vote, or voted for Hillary, but support some Trump policies) (1) don’t deserve to be placed in that group, and (2) are just being further alienated.

            • Michael Waterhouse
              Posted October 26, 2018 at 6:05 pm | Permalink


            • yazikus
              Posted October 26, 2018 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

              Thanks for the thoughtful responses, BJ. Here’s my thought: if the Republican party platform, as it currently stands, is one of bigotry, injustice & hate – those honest, moral and responsible republicans should not be mad at liberals for calling out the bigotry. They should rather be angry at their party, and the members undermining the messages of personal liberty, fiscal responsibility & pragmatism of their once not-terrible party. If someone in your group is making the rest of the group look bad, it is not reasonable to be upset at the people outside the group pointing out the bad behavior. It is reasonable to try to clean your own house. (Your here not meaning you at all, but those republicans to whom you refer).

              • BJ
                Posted October 26, 2018 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

                Unfortunately, we have a two-party system. I hate most of the Dems’ platforms, but I still vote for them (except for the 2016 Presidential election, which I sat out. I wouldn’t have if I lived in a swing state, though). So, both houses need cleaning. In the meantime, what is one to do?

              • Posted October 27, 2018 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

                “if the Republican party platform, as it currently stands, is one of bigotry, injustice & hate. . .”

                The whole rest of your argument turns on this “if,” which is a huge one. You might as well just not go on, because not even moderate Republicans would characterize their party in this way. This is a Democratic talking (or screaming) point and illustrative of the Democrats’ inability to get outside the blue bubble of their own perceptions. This failure of imagination is precisely what needs to be addressed and overcome, and instead you’re merely perpetuating it.

              • GBJames
                Posted October 27, 2018 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

                Sorry to break it, mirandaga, but “moderate Republicans” have been extinct for some time now. They became endangered in the 1980s and insufficient action was taken to protect enough breeding pairs. They’re all gone now but you can still read about them in books and watch them in old newsreels, some of which have been loaded into YouTube.

              • BJ
                Posted October 27, 2018 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

                Sorry to break it to you. GBJ, but unless you have some serious proof of that, and unless you’ve read the actual policy proposals and can show us how they’re about bigotry and hate (e.g. tax cuts, smaller government…you know, many of the reasons people vote for Republicans), you’re again just making statements of opinion as if they’re facts.

              • Posted October 27, 2018 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

                “’moderate Republicans’ have been extinct for some time now.”

                Well, GB, denying the existence of an opponent is certainly one way to dispose of them. In particular, extremists of one party are always eager to deny the existence of moderates on the other; it allows them to be “willing to act in bipartisan ways” while still having an excuse not to do so.

            • Posted October 27, 2018 at 1:50 am | Permalink

              Of course, nobody in his right mind would vote for a politician calling him “deplorable”. You cannot expect someone harboring such a level of hate to uphold your interests, or any principles.

              • Posted October 27, 2018 at 10:26 am | Permalink

                Remember, Clinton used “deplorable” before the election, applying it to hardcore supporters of Trump and implying who didn’t want to be considered deplorable could simply vote for Clinton. I’m not supporting her saying it, just pointing out its proper interpretation.

                And speaking of “levels of hate”, Trump expresses many orders of magnitude more hate than Clinton and her “deplorable” comment.

              • Posted October 27, 2018 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

                Yes, I was simplistic. I suppose that the effect of the “deplorable” comment was to galvanize into voting some “deplorables” who would otherwise abstain.
                As for the hate, Trump also spews hate but people have much higher tolerance to hate directed to others than to hate directed to themselves :-).

              • BJ
                Posted October 27, 2018 at 11:17 am | Permalink

                She didn’t apply it to only “hardcore” Trump supporters. She said “half of” them, and then went on to say that his supporters, in general, are “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic.”

              • Posted October 27, 2018 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

                Wow, so she implicitly portrayed herself as Islamophilic? It was worse than I knew!

        • yazikus
          Posted October 26, 2018 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

          Can we revisit the wall for a moment? The wall is a terrible idea, even if you are highly concerned about immigration. The wall will be terrible for the environment. It won’t keep people out (most illegal immigrants here have overstayed visas, they came in legally). It will be hugely expensive, and will not generate revenue. It will harm international relations. It is poorly thought out, ill advised and the antithesis of fiscal responsibility. If a republican were really concerned with migrants from south of the border (which usually seems to be the ones they mind) – they need to make sure ag workers get overtime. They need to sanction the many, many big farms employing undocumented workers in violation of federal law. And they would do well to remember, many of those undocumented immigrants are funding their social security, with federal tax deposits they’ll never be able to collect.

          • BJ
            Posted October 26, 2018 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

            I agree that the wall isn’t a great idea, but it’s at least an idea. I think that’s what I’ve been trying to say.

            OTOH, Israel built a wall and, though it was for different reasons, it reduced the terror attacks we used to see all over our TVs (blackened and blown out buses, exploded cafes, etc.) by 95%. Obviously, our border with Mexico is far bigger. It’s less about how effective the wall would be, and more about what it represents.

            • Posted October 27, 2018 at 2:08 am | Permalink

              Bulgaria has built a fence along its border with Turkey to control illegal entry. It works for this purpose, as well as to contain foot-and-mouth disease. I do not know how it affects the environment. Bulgarians have been called names while the fence was built, but once it was ready, it was accepted as a fact (except when I point out here that it works).
              Of course, a fence is most efficient when the neighboring country cooperates. Last August, Turkish police apprehended nearly 14,000 migrants (mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan) while trying to pass.

            • Posted October 27, 2018 at 10:15 am | Permalink

              So even though our wall would be totally different than the Israeli wall, we should build it anyway? As another commenter mentioned, it wouldn’t even serve its main purpose as most illegals come in as tourists then overstay. It would be purely symbolic and a complete embarrassment.

              • BJ
                Posted October 27, 2018 at 10:22 am | Permalink

                “So even though our wall would be totally different than the Israeli wall, we should build it anyway?”

                Huh? Half of this conversation has been about trying to show people that you understand their concerns and are willing to do something about them (even if it won’t work. Though, to be honest, a wall would work to some extent, just not nearly as well as the Israeli one does).

                I literally said in the first and last sentences in my post that, no, I DON’T think we should build a wall. From the beginning of my post: “…the wall isn’t a great idea, but at least it’s an idea.” From the end of the post: “It’s less about how effective the wall would be, and more about what it represents.”

    • Randy Bessinger
      Posted October 26, 2018 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      Did you see the Frontline shows on immigration a few years ago on a grand solution that failed at the last minute. It is worth seeking out. Now giving legal status to ANY illegals in the country is toxic so I don’t see a solution by either party. Lets face it this is a winning issue for the Repubs so they will not really want Dems to move…why would they?

  9. Brian Jung
    Posted October 26, 2018 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I’m usually a big Andrew Sullivan fan, but I think he’s seriously missing something here. This, at least for the moment, has nothing to do with illegal immigration. Just because people are travelling en masse and they don’t have “skills” doesn’t make them illegal immigrants.

    The discussion around the caravan should be about 1) how will we uphold our commitment to international law and prepare to process a large number of credible asylum requests? 2) what can we do about poverty, crime and political corruption in Central America to help people remain in the home nations? An honest assessment of that second question should consider what the US and US corporations have done to cause or hasten the current crisis. Because it’s plenty.

    These people are not criminals for merely seeking help. They are not illegal immigrants in any sense since they are still hundreds of miles from the US border. Even if they do cross outside of official ports of entry, international law still allows them to seek asylum once they are on US soil.

    Out of simple decency we should be figuring out how first to accommodate them and second how to help them repair their broken countries.

    In the 1980s and 1990s we helped tens of thousands of Russian Jewish immigrants settle in the United States. Why exactly could we handle that and not this?

    That’s a rhetorical question.

  10. Historian
    Posted October 26, 2018 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    It is one thing to say that Democrats should, from a policy point of view, clearly state what they think should be done about immigration. It is quite another thing to say, as Sullivan does, that the Democrats’ position or non-position virtually guarantees Trump another victory. While immigration riles the Republican base, a very recent Reuters poll notes that “Angry Americans will be more likely to vote, and Democrats are generally more angry about their hot-button issues than Republicans, according to the Reuters/Ipsos data.” In other words, the evidence does not support Sullivan’s fear regarding immigration as a determinant of future political results.

    • Posted October 26, 2018 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      Regardless of Sullivan’s proposed Democrat agenda, we are too close to the mid-terms to make the case he’s suggesting. Instead, it is more likely to play directly into Trump’s hands by keeping immigration front and center in the week and a half left. Dems should focus on getting out the vote and figure out their stand on immigration after.

      • darrelle
        Posted October 26, 2018 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

        According to polling data presented by Rachel Maddow a couple of days ago the biggest issue by far at the moment is healthcare. I can’t remember where immigration was, maybe 4th or 5th. But health care was number one by a margin of 2x to 3x depending on the poll and exact question. Questions were variations on “what issue are you going to base your decision about who to vote for on.”

        More specifically the current hot button issue is pre-existing conditions. Rachel also showed polling data about pro vs con on the ACA from 2010 till current. Turns out that the tables have turned recently. For the majority of that time span the cons were on top, but now the positions have switched and significantly more people are now pro ACA than con ACA. In other words, a significant percentage of the Republican base now likes the ACA, or at a minimum guaranteed coverage of existing conditions. They like it so much that they are saying it is the most important factor in their voting choice. Two to three times more important than any other issue.

        Of course the lying sacks of shit that comprise the ranks of Republican politicians have just picked up on this data and immediately began running new campaign ads swearing that they have always fought for making insurance companies cover existing conditions. Despite the Democrats penchant for being able to look gift horses in the mouth for months if necessary, they also picked up on it, apparently sooner than the Republicans. The large majority of campaign advertising by Democrats prominently features existing conditions coverage. I guess we’ll find out pretty soon.

        • Posted October 26, 2018 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

          Yes, and this is what Dems last-minute ad buys should address. I would also put some focus on Republicans’ intention to dismember “entitlement” programs like Medicare.

  11. KD33
    Posted October 26, 2018 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    I urge everyone to read today’s NYT article by Sonia Nazario on a proposed solution to the immigration problem, from someone who has seen it from all sides. Not really a solution, of course, but a balanced approach that addresses both the root-cause problems in central America, and how to handle asylum seekers once they reach the U.S. It’s the closest I’ve seen to something that rings true, does not flinch from the hard questions, and may be doable. The info on some anti-corruption efforts is interesting in that it can be cost-effective, and has had some real impact on slowing migration. There needs to be more exploration of that.

    • Posted October 26, 2018 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      This one I assume:

      • KD33
        Posted October 27, 2018 at 2:12 am | Permalink

        No – a different article, published today. Check it out: “I’m a Child of Immigrants. And I have a Plan to Fix Immigration.”

        • Posted October 27, 2018 at 10:30 am | Permalink

          Same author and subject so probably the same set of ideas, right?

    • Posted October 26, 2018 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      Her proposal seems like it is in the right direction. However, a few things about the process have always bothered me. Why do applicants for asylum and refugee status have to be housed on the US side of the border? Seems obvious to me that we don’t let them in until they are accepted. It’s as if a bouncer at the door of a nightclub says “Why don’t you wait inside while I decide if I want to let you in.” And why do applicants need real lawyers and judges? Why isn’t the process more like the DMV of Social Security? (OK, perhaps a bit more formal than that.) With Mexico’s cooperation, we could set up centers on the Mexican side of the border. Make the process less formal and much, much shorter and the cost of optional housing for applicants would be way cheaper than the process we have now.

      • Michael Waterhouse
        Posted October 26, 2018 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

        Yes, Australia does that. It is not ideal, by far, otherwie, once in, it’s a lawyers paradise.

      • Posted October 29, 2018 at 11:58 am | Permalink

        International agreement, to which the US (for the moment) is a party to, requires it.

        (We’re having a similar debate, slightly more muted, here in Canada – and people forget that obligation here, too.)

        • Posted October 29, 2018 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

          I can see now how that makes sense in many situations. For example, someone fleeing from persecution by the Mexican government wouldn’t want to stay in Mexico. It’s a tough issue.

  12. David W.
    Posted October 26, 2018 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    I think this isn’t an immigration crisis but a humanitarian crisis, prompted by the terrible conditions faced by people in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. They’re trying to escape from the threats they face where they live. Trump’s making them an enemy does nothing to solve the problem, but is only fearmongering for no good reason, other than for purely partisan purposes. These poor men, women, and children pose no threat to the U.S. at all and we shouldn’t be afraid of them, because they’re the symptom of a greater problem.

    • Posted October 27, 2018 at 2:20 am | Permalink

      As far as I know, MS-13 was originally a Salvadoran gang, so they definitely pose a problem. Also, some Americans complain that their children’s education suffers from the large number of non-English speakers in schools.
      The underlying problem is, the USA (or any Western country) simply cannot welcome the entire population of countries where conditions are terrible. Especially in today’s world, where even people in terrible conditions and facing threads can pay smugglers to bring them where they want to apply. International laws about refugees and asylum seekers were suited for a gone world.

      • Posted October 27, 2018 at 2:21 am | Permalink


      • Posted October 27, 2018 at 4:09 am | Permalink

        There was a good article in the WP making this point.

        At the “micro” level, lots of these people have it rough, and it would be great to help them. Holding the door open to the one you’re talking to seems easy. This is the perspective of all coverage that interviews individuals.

        At a “macro” level, you have to admit that about a billion people also have it rough. The solution to their problems cannot involve all moving to the USA, it would simply cease to exist… and long long before that stage, its citizens would be very unhappy about the prognosis.

      • Posted October 27, 2018 at 10:34 am | Permalink

        This is exactly the kind of “what if” scare-mongering that Trump and the GOP engage in.

        “What if everyone poor and/or bad came to the US tomorrow? That would be a disaster, right? We better build a wall now to prevent that from happening.”

        This is not based on reality and fact-based reasoning.

        • a-non
          Posted October 27, 2018 at 11:11 am | Permalink

          Only if your reality doesn’t include the events of 2015, in Europe.

          After which many walls got built. Although, to avoid TV pictures of people throwing stones at said walls, most of the spending has been on getting various dictators to make the problem go away, an ongoing expense.

          What you call “what if scare-mongering”, some of us call reasonable forecasting, or not fighting the last war, or closing the door _before_ the horse has bolted.

          • Posted October 27, 2018 at 11:28 am | Permalink

            Sorry, I was talking in the context of the US where I reside.

            The immigration issue is a much bigger one in Europe. Still, while I am no expert, I suspect it too has been overblown and exploited by the Right. Politicians have a demonstrated proclivity to taking a perceived problem as an opportunity to blow it up to monstrous proportions and then offer themselves as the only savior. The problem is usually real but should be attacked using facts and reason, a la Pinker, not emotional grandstanding and overreaction.

            • a-non
              Posted October 27, 2018 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

              Indeed, the EU story is a little different to the US one. But I think it does reveal that seriously large numbers are not just fevered imagination: in one year, Germany got a number roughly equivalent to every German 20- and 21- year old male.

              We should absolutely think hard and rationally about these things. But political culture on both sides of the Atlantic seems largely unable to do so. It largely seems to consist of calling each other names and trying to land cheap shots. I find this extremely worrying.

        • Posted October 27, 2018 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

          I am a Bulgarian. What you claim to be “scare-mongering” “not based on reality and fact-based reasoning” became a reality in Europe in 2015, after the blunder of a single politician (who is still in power).
          And yes, it was a disaster.

  13. Martin X
    Posted October 26, 2018 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    There is no position the Dems can take on immigration that will prevent the Right from lying about it.

    As for how big an issue this is, most Americans view immigrants in a positive light, and that number has *grown* since Trump has taken office.

    Political Science research shows that voters mostly don’t choose a party based on ideology, they choose an ideology that their party advocates, as long as they know what it is, which they often don’t.

    Dems can’t move right to win conservative voters because that just doesn’t work and it alienates their actual constituency.

    • Mark R.
      Posted October 26, 2018 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      Reminds me of Trump’s lie that democrats ended DACA when it was apparent for anyone to see (who wants to see) that Trump single-handedly ended the program. I think he knew even back then (probably since the “kill someone on 4th ave” comment) that his cult would believe him. After all, those are the only folk he cares about…assuming he actually has the capacity to care for anyone.

      • Posted October 28, 2018 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        “Dems can’t move right to win conservative voters because that just doesn’t work and it alienates their actual constituency.”

        Would you consider it “moving right” to simply acknowledge that some people are here “illegally”? While The Pew article you cite talks about immigrants who are in the country “legally” or who are “lawful” immigrants, it doggedly refuses to say that some are “unlawful” immigrants or are here “illegally.” It doesn’t even resort to the long-standing liberal mealy-mouthed alternative “undocumented” (as if the people in question just inadvertently left their documents at home) but instead uses “unauthorized” (13 times), which I guess is the pc euphemism du jour for “illegal.”

        Does it not occur to the Dems that people who are here legally might like to be distinguished from those who enter the country illegally? And would it really “alienate their actual constituency” if Dems were to just acknowledge that people do in fact enter the country illegally? If the latter, what does this say about both the Dems and “their actual constituency?”

        • Posted October 28, 2018 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

          Just because some Dems dislike using the term “illegal”, it doesn’t mean they don’t acknowledge their existence and the need to fix the law. Calling them “illegal” puts the blame solely on them and is perhaps inconsistent with giving them a reasonable path to legal residency. This is why some Dems don’t like using the term. Please don’t blow this up into something it isn’t.

          • Posted October 29, 2018 at 12:31 am | Permalink

            So we need to avoid saying that someone entered the country illegally because this puts the blame for entering the country illegally on the person who entered the country illegally and, further, is “perhaps inconsistent” with giving the person who entered the country illegally a reasonable path to legal residency, which the person entering the country illegally has zero right to in the first place. And the Dems wonder why some voters might think that, compared to this line of reasoning, “Build a wall!” actually makes some sense.

            • Posted October 29, 2018 at 9:29 am | Permalink

              No, not the same thing at all. One is a manner of speaking about the immigration issue, the other costs billions of dollars, harms wildlife, and fails at its intended purpose.

              • Posted October 29, 2018 at 10:22 am | Permalink

                “No, not the same thing at all.”

                That reply isn’t worthy of you, Paul. You know I didn’t say they were the same thing, but only that your “manner of speaking about the immigration issue” drives some people (myself included) up the wall.

            • Posted November 8, 2018 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

              + 1

    • BJ
      Posted October 26, 2018 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      Many people seem to think that the Dems taking a harder stance on immigration than they previously have would somehow be “moving right.” I think that says something about just how polarized things have become and just how much debate has devolved.

      The link you provided says this: “Overall, a majority of Americans have positive views about immigrants. Six-in-ten Americans (65%) say immigrants strengthen the country ‘because of their hard work and talents,’ while just over a quarter (26%) say immigrants burden the country by taking jobs, housing and health care.”

      There’s a big difference between what people think about “immigrants” (notice Pew didn’t even ask about illegal immigrants, but just immigrants generally), and how they feel about immigration policy and illegal immigration.

  14. Tom Besson
    Posted October 26, 2018 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Being an immigrant, I can say that I am appreciative of national policies that recognize my skills and allow me to live freely and legally in any country that would want me for my particular skill set. Having worked with refugees, I can also say that any country that provides a process for those who are persecuted and that allows them to enter a country safely, knowing that they will be welcomed and treated humanely, deserves my respect and admiration. U.S. Immigration policy appears fuzzy at the moment. Safeguarding refugees from the violence they experienced in their homelands, and for which they are fleeing, appears non-existent.

  15. Historian
    Posted October 26, 2018 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Here is one possible component of a solution to the so-called immigration crisis. People without any skills, but are willing to learn and work, can play a critical role in helping to alleviate the coming health care crisis in America, and I am not talking about insurance. The population is aging and this means vast numbers of Americans will be suffering from incurable dementia. For those reaching age 85, there is a one in three chance of contracting dementia. Who will take care of these people? Immigrants can do this and will be making a highly valuable contribution to the country as millions of caregivers will be needed. They would certainly earn the right to citizenship. This silent, creeping up us on crisis is rarely talked about in political campaigns. I do not know how other countries handle this problem, but politicians in the United States have adopted the head-in-the-sand approach. This will not work much longer. The Washington Post has an op-ed discussing this major problem.

  16. dd
    Posted October 26, 2018 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    “…If the United States wants to to truly solve the immigration crisis, and a caravan/invading horde of 7,000 people is a crisis, it needs to make some difficult decisions that affect those that are in power here. It can begin by cutting off aid, every penny to this country. The U.S. gave $67.8 million in military and development aid to Honduras in 2018. In 2017 it was over 100 million. That money is not reaching its intended destinations; its being siphoned off to corrupt government officials at every level before ever reaching a worthy development project. The U.S. should revoke travel visas of known corrupt officials…Lastly, immigration law should change to make it more difficult for the wealthy of Honduras to fly to the U.S. to have their children and thereby procure for them birthright citizenship”

  17. harrync
    Posted October 27, 2018 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Although it is a bit unfair and somewhat of an over-simplification, there appears to still be a lot of truth in the old saying: “Democrats like to feel self-righteous; Republicans like to win elections.”

    • Posted October 27, 2018 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      I find “Democrats like to be right; Republicans like to win elections.” to be closer to the truth. The parties used to cooperate at least some of the time. I think Dems would like to get back to that time. Now, Republicans are so focused on winning elections, they are willing to lie, cheat, and steal (eg, a SCOTUS nomination).

      • GBJames
        Posted October 27, 2018 at 11:11 am | Permalink

        A perfect example of how bipartisanship works these days is the passage of the ACA. Democrats bent over backwards to accommodate Republicans, even adopting a program modeled on one created by a Republican governor. President Obama wouldn’t even allow discussion of left-leaning options like Medicare-for-all or other public options. In return, Republicans spent eight years doing their best to repeal the law or weaken it as best they could.

        • Posted October 27, 2018 at 11:31 am | Permalink

          Yes and health care is probably Dems strongest card right now because of it. I still think Dems should take the high road. Many Americans are now fired up about some kind of universal healthcare. That would probably not have happened without Obama’s ACA. For one thing, it introduced the voters to the idea that covering pre-existing conditions was doable and desirable.

  18. Kurt Lewis Helf
    Posted October 27, 2018 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    You’ll forgive the Dems if they don’t take the advice of right-wing concern trolls like Sullivan.

    • Posted October 27, 2018 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, but he’s not a “concern troll.” You may disagree with what he says, but he believes that he says and he’s not a troll, however one construes that word. And I won’t forgive the Dems until they start taking the immigration issue seriously.

      • GBJames
        Posted October 27, 2018 at 1:20 pm | Permalink


        I’d be curious to hear how you would frame “the immigration issue” and what “taking it seriously” means to you.

        (And I’m asking honestly, not snarkily, because Sullivan demanding “end illegal immigration, period” is completely unrealistic regardless of policy.)

        • BJ
          Posted October 27, 2018 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

          “end illegal immigration, period” would be the stance, not the actual end result. The point is that the stance itself should be “we will do our best to end this illegal activity being committed by millions every year,” rather than “all the policies being proposed to end illegal immigration are based in racism.” For all the talk of how progressive a place like Canada is, the people and politicians there seem to agree that they have a good immigration system (even if they disagree over the number of refugees to let in), and that system is far more restrictive and lets in far fewer people than ours does, and uses a points system. We are unlike almost any other Western nation in how many immigrants we let in and how lax our security is.

          • Posted October 27, 2018 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

            I would be happy if the US had an immigration system like Canada’s, based on what little I know of it. I suspect Dem politicians would also. They might argue over the details of who should be let in and the point formulae but it would be refreshing to be at a point where those are the main differences between the parties.

            That said, I do think many Republicans, Trump included, are motivated by racism and xenophobia. I have problems with both your “stances”. They seem to excessively blame the illegal immigrants. Do we blame motorists for going 70 on a freeway where the speed limit is 55, if the government routinely fails to enforce it? Government should accept the blame for not dealing with illegal immigration and treat it as an oversight that must be corrected.

          • Posted October 28, 2018 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

            You should also consider that the population of Canada is 1/10th of the USA. This is also reflected in the immigration policy.
            The UK population for example is now close to 67 millions and subsequently also has a different immigration policy.

      • Kurt Helf
        Posted October 29, 2018 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

        I disagree with what he says because he clearly hasn’t even read the Democratic Party’s 2016 platform; from the second paragraph under “Fixing Our Broken Immigration System”:

        “The Democratic Party supports legal immigration, within reasonable limits, that meets the needs of families, communities, and the economy as well as maintains the United States’ role as a beacon of hope for people seeking safety, freedom, and security. People should come to the United States with visas and not through smugglers. Yet, we recognize that the current immigration system is broken.”

        It seems to me that paragraph alone addresses all the points you bolded from his column. The following paragraphs addresses how the Dems intend to begin to fix the system. I daresay you haven’t read the platform, either.

        I’d like to see Sullivan write a column advising the GOP how they should go about working with the Dems regarding immigration, which, in my opinion, is not nearly the most pressing issue in America, which just might help mitigate the issue.

        So, yah, Sullivan, a republican, puts out a column purporting to give advice to the Dems regarding how they should address immigration issue when they already have pretty much encompasses the definition of concern trolling.

        • Posted October 29, 2018 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

          Very few people pay attention to platforms; they pay attention to what people say, and that is what Trump is talking about: what Dems say in public. No, I haven’t read the platform, but it’s ridiculous that you emphasize this in light of the fact that platforms are almost completely ignored when it comes time to make policy. Note that there is no prescription in what it says, though.

          Sorry, but neither Sullivan nor I are trolling, and you really should try to be more civil in your posts. If you don’t see your incivility, read the third paragraph. I daresay your civility detector is insensitive.

          • Posted October 29, 2018 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

            I agree with our host. These platforms are fairly meaningless. It wouldn’t surprise me if the GOP platform contains something very similar to the Dem one.

            Imagine if the Trump administration authored a platform document that honestly reflected their agenda. Now that would be something to read!

            • GBJames
              Posted October 29, 2018 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

              They did! They explicitly removed the standard plank in the Republican platform that called for arming Ukraine. Putin didn’t approve of the original language apparently.

          • Kurt Lewis Helf
            Posted October 30, 2018 at 5:43 am | Permalink

            I thought my fifth parargraph was much less civil than the third but, regardless, I’ll take PCC’s advice and have my detector checked next time I get an oil change. I admire your ability to evolve your opinions of people, as you’ve shown great disdain for Sullivan in the past, but I retain my disdain.

  19. Posted October 28, 2018 at 1:03 am | Permalink

    The only way I know to change behavior is to eliminate the positive rewards for the behavior and substitute negative awards. That means removing g the rewards for being inside the U S illegally. The border is to long to stop people from crossing it if they have a reason for crossing it.

    That means no jobs, no benefits, prison time and deportation for illegals, and prison and fines for people who employ or otherwise aid and and illegals. And changing oot Constitution to dli aye citizenship for anchor babies.

    If we are not willing to do that we should admit we are not serious about illegal immigration, that we have open borders, and let people who come in stay as long as they do not break any more laws. That is in effect our present policy.

    I think our present policy is not sustainable and should be changed. But the ways to change it are painful,

    Changin behavior is always painful for the people whose behavior is being changed.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted October 28, 2018 at 1:44 am | Permalink

      OG – what does this mean? [there’s some misspellings]:

      “…changing oot Constitution to dli aye citizenship for anchor babies

      You already have the highest incarceration rate in the WORLD & now you propose to throw ‘illegals’ in prison too? Incarceration doesn’t work without all the other elements that the U.S. isn’t prepared to pay for – put ‘illegals’ into your prison system & they’ll be forced to join a prison gang to survive – your prisons have failed thoroughly & you propose to manufacture more gangsters?

      Your ideas are utterly unoriginal, pointless & don’t actually work at the sharp end where annoying real life gets in the way – the incentives to travel to the US from a South/Central American shithole will never be overcome by your punitive measures – it’s as daft as your failed ‘war’ on drugs.

      The only way is to go through huge systematic changes internally & in your relations to your neighbours. The rational approach is to uplift the economies of your southern neighbours – start with all those US companies over the border that are taking advantage of cheap labour while shipping the profits back to the good ole USA [I just instantly thought of that – may be a bad idea for some reason, but you get the idea].

      Reduce the steepness of your economic gradient internally & externally. Do something about your prisons. Stop trying to solve social problems via the application of pain ffs.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted October 28, 2018 at 1:56 am | Permalink

        CORRECTION: The only way is to go through huge systematic systemic changes internally & in your relations to your neighbours

        • Posted October 28, 2018 at 9:21 am | Permalink

          The sentence in question was to read ‘change our constitution to deny citizenship for anchor babies”

          My comment was driven by my frustration that no one has come up with a solution to the fact that we now have in affect, an open border policy. Any illegal that can make it across the border has found a home here unless he gets arrested for some criminal act.

          The democrats will not admit there is a problem or if they do propeose to solve it by providing a way for these people to become citizens.

          The republican solution is to build a wall and stop illegal crossings. As I pointed out, as long as there is incentive to cross the border that will not work.

          My solution is not long prison terms for anyone. My idea was to arrest the immigrants, keep them incarcerated them can be deported. Same with hire them. A fine and a very short stay in jail.

          I am not in favor of long prison sentences for anyone except violent people who to dangerous to live in society.

          Trump has just signed an agreement with Mexico for trade which should help the Mexican economy, but most of the illegals are from south of Mexico.

          We do not have the funds or the ability to fix all the economic probleyif central and South America. You solution is not practical or workable any more than mine.

          The future I see is that unless there is a change in our policy there will be continued immigration across our southern border until the population and culture changes to the point that the southwestern part of our country will break off from the US and form a new country with Northern Mexico.

          So far neither you, me or anyone else had come up with an alternative to that continued process.

          Not too many years ago the Southwest was part of Mexico. Americans started crossing the border until they outnumbered the Mexicans, broke off and became part of ghe U S . Now, we are seeing ghe process in reverse.

          If you have any suggestions other than us engaging in nation building and restructuring of central and South America please let me know.

          I always appreciate your imput.

          • Posted October 28, 2018 at 9:24 am | Permalink

            Fifth paragraph.

            Same with those who hire or assist them. Large fine and a short stay in jail. Not long enough for them to become gangsters or enter a life of crime.

            Long prison sentences do more harm than good.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted October 28, 2018 at 10:57 am | Permalink

          OG – Thank you for the very civilised reply 🙂


          “Trump has just signed an agreement with Mexico for trade which should help the Mexican economy…”

          No he has not. The United States, Canada and Mexico have come to a revised trade deal [that could replace NAFTA] called the USMCA. It might be signed by the end of November. THEN it needs congressional approval in 2019. The main provision effecting Mexico in the USMCA is that it requires that 40% to 45% of car and truck parts be made by workers earning at least $16 an hour. The goal is to level the playing field between American and Mexican auto workers and to incentivize manufacturers to build more in the United States. One of the main criticisms of NAFTA is that it prompted American car makers to shift production south of the border, where workers earn much less than their US counterparts.

          Doesn’t sound to good for Mexico.


          “…but most of the illegals are from south of Mexico”

          No, 55% of illegals hail from Mexico. See table below from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for 2017

          Country of origin / Raw number / % of total
          Mexico: 6,640,000 55%
          El Salvador: 700,000 6%
          Guatemala: 640,000 5%
          India: 430,000 4%
          Honduras: 400,000 3%
          Philippines: 360,000 3%
          China: 270,000 2%
          Korea: 250,000 2%
          Vietnam: 200,000 2%
          Dominican Republic: 180,000 1%
          Other: 2,050,000: 17%


          “We do not have the funds or the ability to fix all the economic probleyif central and South America. You solution is not practical or workable any more than mine”

          It so is workable! Mexico is the buffer country between you & all points south – it is where the US should concentrate its main efforts.

          According to the OECD, after Chile, Mexico has the highest degree of economic disparity between the extremely poor & extremely rich. It’s your neighbour & poor relation – it’s a mirror of the way the White House sits cheek by jowl to some of the poorest parts of Washington D.C. ~ this is a disgrace. Pouring money & talent into Mexico is the way to go – by uplifting Mexico the USA benefits because economic growth is not a zero sum game – EVERYBODY WINS. You can look at the reunification of East & West Germany where West Germans whinged about the cost, turns out they were wrong. Dead wrong.


          “The future I see is that unless there is a change in our policy there will be continued immigration across our southern border until the population and culture changes to the point that the southwestern part of our country will break off from the US and form a new country with Northern Mexico.”

          This is absurd & somewhat unpleasant! You were born a year or two after the U.S. Government put 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry into internment camps – 62% of them U.S. Citizens. You have lived through EIGHT DECADES of various divisive “us & them” periods in U.S. history & you think like a small town protectionist who don’t want [Jimmy Stewart voice] “thems thar folks from palookaville coming ere stealing our jobs & our gurls”

      • Posted October 28, 2018 at 9:12 am | Permalink

        Well put.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted October 28, 2018 at 11:02 am | Permalink

          ta very much

  20. Posted November 8, 2018 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    I am returning to this thread after the elections, to paste a quote from the NYT:

    “Ms. Omar will also be the first Somali-American to serve in Congress. She has called for gun control, single-payer health care and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

    Ms. Tlaib, a Palestinian-American attorney, has championed Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage and abolishing the federal agency Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

    With such messages coming from the Democratic Party, I don’t see how voters are expected to believe that the Democrats do not support illegal immigration.

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