The immigration issue is making a comeback this year.
For the last few years, the issue that had been a significant part of Donald Trump’s unlikely 2016 presidential win was on the back burner as America’s political focus was on impeachment and COVID-19.
“Build the wall” and “Mexico is going to pay for it” became rallying cries throughout that campaign.
After the election, it gave rise to the mythology of “kids in cages,” as if it were part of an evil scheme cooked up in a laboratory by Stephen Miller and Donald Trump. (Yes, there were kids in so-called “cages,” but the practice pre-dated the Trump administration.)
Immigration gave way to the Mueller investigation, impeachment and later, COVID-19.
After the 2020 presidential election, it was as if someone flipped a switch and there was a rush for the U.S.-Mexico border. Tens of thousands of migrants, many of them underage, have attempted to make their way into the United States, in many cases being successful.
It is not a pleasant scene. Regardless of how one feels about immigration policy, the visuals from the southern border are not pleasing.
Republicans have picked up on the hypocrisy and are making Democrats own their rhetoric. Even the left-leaning national news media are forced to pay notice, and that’s had an impact.
Earlier this week, an ABC News/Ipsos poll found generally decent numbers for the new Biden presidency, but showed his numbers lagged on immigration.
Fifty-seven percent of Americans disapproved of the president’s approach to immigration. The more and more those images are shown on the news, the further south those numbers will go.
According to the poll, there is some dispute about whether or not the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border fits the billing of a “crisis.” But no one thinks it is a good thing.
The first 100 days of a presidency are a time for significant achievements. Unfortunately, for the Biden administration, dealing with a humanitarian crisis on American soil makes it hard for Congress to push substantial infrastructure spending.
Why and how did this happen? Experts say two reasons. One, a Biden win suggested new immigration-friendly leadership was about to take power, and two, as a show the new administration must reverse all things “Trump.” Thus, it sought to handle border control in the most opposite way in as many areas as possible.
The Biden administration was caught flat-footed, and White House officials look dazed when confronted with questions about the situation. There seem to be no good answers.
They cannot say, “We have it under control.” That is clearly not the case.
If they say we need to reverse course and go back to what was in place six months ago, that might be seen as an acknowledgment of Donald Trump’s successes.
Meanwhile, the left flank of the Democratic Party thinks the Biden administration should be even laxer than it is now.
It raises questions about the immigration policy on a broader scale. Might this “crisis” provide the impetus for legislation, especially now that Democrats have majorities in Congress and control of the White House?
Neither Democrats nor Republicans are pure on the issue. Some Democrats see a political advantage given immigrants are more likely to break for their candidates in elections. Republicans see it as a way to keep the labor market in check, increasing the supply of workers and keeping wages low.
Nearly a year after President George W. Bush was elected, he faced a very rough tropical weather season, which will forever be immortalized by Hurricane Katrina and the images that made their way into the media.
While those images offered a mostly anecdotal assessment of the situation, the perception was the Bush administration was caught off guard and unprepared for a significant weather event impacting a major American city.
It was from there things went poorly for Bush’s second term. A big push for entitlement reform was headed off by Democrats early in 2005. Then came Katrina. Meanwhile, Democrats sought to return to their roots as the anti-war party.
In the 2006 midterms, Republicans were wiped out.
For Biden, the immigration chaos is underway early in his presidency, and he has more than a year until the midterm election.
But remember, immigration led to the rise of Trump. In the interim, headed to the Nov. 8, 2022 midterm elections, states will hold Republican primaries all over the country.
The right-flank immigration hawks will do well the longer this so-called crisis at the border persists.
The message is as easy as this: “After Biden gets elected, everything goes wrong at the southern border. We need to go back to Donald Trump’s policies on immigration.”
Then it becomes another race as to who can be the “Trump-iest” in a GOP primary.
We’ll find out if this is Joe Biden’s “Katrina” moment. For now, there are not many signs it wouldn’t be.
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