November 21, 2023 - 9:00 pm
Democrats have ridden an abortion rights platform to outperform expectations in recent elections. Do Republicans have a similar opportunity when it comes to illegal immigration?
President Joe Biden’s handling of the southern border has been a fiasco. According to Syracuse University’s TRAC website, which compiles immigration information, some 3.8 million people have entered the United States illegally since the president took office, about half of whom were never apprehended.
The influx has created discontent even in Democratic strongholds, particularly after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent immigrants to so-called “sanctuary cities.” This month, the Democratic mayors of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Denver and Houston asked the White House for help in managing the surge in illegal migrants that is stressing their social service capabilities. Sanctuary indeed.
And now, concern over administration immigration policy has pushed even many left-leaning voters to reject the “open border” approach that has been so prevalent among Democratic elites.
According to a Sienna College poll released this week, 75 percent of New York Democrats said the influx of immigrants to their state was a “somewhat serious” problem. A Fox News poll this month revealed that more than half the Democrats surveyed were at least “very” concerned about border security. Meanwhile, a Quinnipiac survey found that 71 percent of independent voters and 30 percent of Democrats disapproved of Mr. Biden’s handling of the border.
“Panicky Democrats don’t need anything else to fret about ahead of the 2024 election,” The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake wrote this week. “But high on the list of things that probably should register for them right now is the southern border.”
The polling reveals an opportunity for Republicans — if they don’t overplay their hand. Border security and opposition to open borders are winning issues for the GOP. But surveys also show that most Americans aren’t on board with Republican hard-liners who talk as if it’s feasible — or reasonable policy — to simply round up and deport the estimated 11 million people currently living in the United States illegally.
A smart GOP immigration platform would emphasize the importance of controlling our borders while also recognizing the economic and cultural value of legal immigrants who seek to come here to work and build better lives for themselves and their families. That could also pave the way for a compromise with more moderate Democrats while helping the party attract independent voters who understand the folly of both mass deportation and open borders.