Border Crisis Hypocrites on Parade

Conventional wisdom holds that political parties evolve, but do so slowly, over passing generations.

But today’s Democrats have broken land-speed records as they have careened leftward on the question of immigration. Today’s Democratic Party is nearly unrecognizable when compared with where it was a decade ago, or even five years ago. And the transformation has been extreme.

On the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives this week, Democrats lined up to denounce the unsanitary and overcrowded housing conditions of unaccompanied minors at the border, wildly or willfully ignorant of the fact that they have known for nearly two months that the Department of Health and Human Services—the agency given the job of caring for unaccompanied children—is rapidly running out of money.

While claiming there’s “a special place in hell” for Trump’s border policies, Democrats blocked resources to care for these kids no fewer than 17 times.

Even after the Senate negotiated a compromise bill that passed the chamber with 84 of 100 votes, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) publicly opposed it, threatening to drag out negotiations—and resources for unaccompanied kids—even longer. (After openly waged intraparty warfare, House Democrats eventually passed the Senate’s bill late Thursday.)

Even the New York Times has had enough, telling Democrats last month to “give Trump his border money,” because “there is a crisis at the southern border.”

Yet Democrats, both in Congress and on the debate stage, continued to demagogue the state of the border, claiming as recently as last week that there is no crisis. They do so while falsely claiming that families are still being separated (kids are only removed from their parents at this point if the adult is a threat to the child, or if the child is not related to the alleged parent) and wringing their hands about the fate of the unaccompanied children being held at the border—while shamelessly blocking resources to address the issue.

The hypocrisy here is both brazen and breathtaking. Due to a lack of resources and a Congress uninterested in addressing this deficit, or the incentives that draw waves of migrants, detention conditions are indeed terrible—and have been for years, under many presidents, and at some times, even worse than they are now.

Let’s review. Democrats said nothing about the bodies of 61 migrants found near the border in 2016 or the southwest border deaths which peaked in 2012, the unaccompanied migrants abused while in custody between 2009 and 2014, the tear gas used at the border more than 75 times in fiscal year 2012, and the overcrowded, trash-filled cells that housed migrants in 2016. And Fort Sill, which the Democrats howl is “a former internment camp” used to house migrants, was also used by the Obama administration to house overflows of illegal immigrants in 2014. And yes, families were separated under President Obama, too.

Democrats, it seems, think it’s completely fine to ignore such “atrocities” when a Democrat is in the White House, but expect everyone to defer to their moral leadership when it’s a Republican.

The WayBack Machine (Which Is Only Five or Ten Years Ago)
In a moment that crystallizes just how far the Democrats have come on illegal immigration, 10 of the 20 Democratic candidates were asked on Thursday night if crossing the border should be de-criminalized, and all of them raised their hands. There was an equally unanimous response to the question of whether or not illegal immigrants would be covered by the candidates’ taxpayer funded health plans.

Contrast this to just 10 years ago, when President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress to assuage bipartisan concerns that Obamacare—then still a proposal—would use taxpayer funds to cover illegal immigrants.

Or just five years ago, when President Obama declared a “humanitarian crisis” at the border, with far fewer crossers, and no one called it out as “fake.” Moreover, not a single Democrat raised issue with Obama’s language about deportation orders as a means of deterring families from coming:

The journey is unbelievably dangerous for these kids. The children who are fortunate enough to survive it will be taken care of while they go through the legal process, but in most cases that process will lead to them being sent back home. I’ve sent a clear message to parents in these countries not to put their kids through this . . . With our international partners, we’re taking new steps to go after the dangerous smugglers who are putting thousands of children’s lives at risk.

On both debate stages this week, there was no discussion of border security, or enforcement. Just talk of pathways to citizenship, decriminalizing border crossings, and legalizing DACA recipients. And though several candidates raised the gut-wrenching photo of migrants who recently drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande, none of the candidates were questioned on how their policies would actually spur more immigrants to undertake risky border crossings, rather than solving long-term problems.

There was also zero discussion, or even questions, about legal immigration reform—despite the White House putting forward a detailed proposal. The Democratic Party, it seems, has stopped making the distinction between legal and illegal immigration, counting both in the same category.

It’s a distinction that just 10 or 12 years ago, this party was able to make. Consider these statements from Democratic Party leaders.

From Hillary Clinton, in 2014:

We have to send a clear message that just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay . . . We need to do more to provide border security in southern Mexico. They should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adult in their families are because there are concerns about whether all of them can be sent back, but I think all of them who can be should be reunited with their families.

From Bernie Sanders in 2007:

I believe we have very serious immigration problems in this country, I think as you’ve heard today, sanctions against employers who hire illegal is virtually non-existent. Our border is very porous . . .

From Nancy Pelosi in 2016:

The action the president [Obama] will take this week are about securing the border, holding undocumented immigrants accountable, and again, by making sure that everyone plays by the rules.

From Chuck Schumer in 2009:

When we use phrases like undocumented workers, we convey a message to the American people that their government is not serious about combating illegal immigration- which the American people overwhelmingly oppose. If you don’t think it’s illegal, you’re not going to say it. I think it is illegal and wrong and we have to change it. Above all else, the American people want their government to be serious about protecting the public, enforcing the rule of law, and creating a rational system of legal immigration that will proactively fit our needs rather than reactively responding to future waves of illegal immigration. People who enter the United States without our permission are illegal aliens and illegal aliens should not be treated the same as people who enter the U.S. legally.

In just a few short years, Democrats have embraced the open borders policies that used to make a large portion of the party uneasy. It appears that on immigration the choice for voters will be between one of sovereign enforcement, or utter lawlessness.

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About Rachel Bovard

Rachel Bovard is senior director of policy at the Conservative Partnership Institute and Senior Advisor to the Internet Accountability Project. Beginning in 2006, she served in both the House and Senate in various roles including as legislative director for Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and policy director for the Senate Steering Committee under the successive chairmanships of Senator Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) and Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), where she advised Committee members on strategy related to floor procedure and policy matters. In the House, she worked as senior legislative assistant to Congressman Donald Manzullo (R-Il.), and Congressman Ted Poe (R-Texas). She is the former director of policy services for the Heritage Foundation. Follow her on Twitter at @RachelBovard.