Friday, June 22, 2018

Chris Hayes Makes It Clear

I mention Chris Hayes of MSNBC a fair amount here, but I don't quote him very often outside my Twitter roundups. Here's a series of tweets from him today on the question of immigration more broadly than the immediate crisis:

Since I'm seeing a bunch of zombie takes about "How To Solve The Politics of Immigration" today, a brief thread on my experience covering this issue the last 13 years.

Since 2005's McCain-Kennedy legislation, the basic approach to comprehensive immigration reform has been the same: you need to be *tough* on the border, assure people there is a rigorous and orderly process and then people will accept legalization for the undocumented.

This was the same general structure of the Gang of Eight immigration bill in the Senate in 2013. And it makes a lot of sense: there's strong majority support for this approach in poll after poll.

In fact that bill passed the senate 68–32!

But both those pieces of legislation were killed by hard-right, restrictionist mobilization against it. The plain fact of immigration politics in this country is that the Steve King/Stephen Miller wing of the GOP, a small minority of the country, has a total veto on it.

Now what *has* happened during the last 13 years is that unauthorized immigration has fallen significantly, net migration from Mexico has reached zero, and funding and manpower at the border has doubled. There have never been more border patrol and more ICE agents.

Deportations in the first term of Obama hit record highs. In short, the border has never been more patrolled and militarized. And yet somehow the anti-immigration forces during this time have only gotten stronger and more extreme.

That's because the politics of opposition aren't driven by concerns about border security or lawfulness. There *are* lots of persuadable *voters* who do have those concerns. But they're not the obstacle.

No, the hardcore opposition is driven by demographic and racial panic.

The leaders of that wing, Steve King for instance, are very open and clear about their opposition to demographic change. Steve Bannon even pointed to having too many Asian tech CEO's as an example of the problem he's trying to solve. The president himself lamented immigration from Haiti because it is a shithole country and openly pined for more people from countries like Norway.

They are not subtle about this.

And that is why no amount of border security or enforcement ***will ever be enough*** to assuage their opposition.

The only political solution is for the pro-immigration faction, which is closer to the majority's views on the topic, to organize sufficiently to deal Steve King et al total defeat. That's what happened in California after Prop 187. I see no other way out.
That, plus two interviews from his show last night informed me more than most everything else I've heard. One interview was with Texas. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who actually appears to know what he's talking about, and the other was with former acting ICE director (under Obama), John Sandweg. From O'Rourke, I learned these facts which come from Customs and Border Patrol:
  • 1.6 million people entered the U.S. without documents in 2001 as George W. Bush took office
  • That number is now only 400,000 (which, as we all can figure out, is 25% of the earlier number). 
  • The number of families entering was down 4 percent between fiscal year 2017 and 2018; the number of unaccompanied minors is up 3 percent over that same time period... so hardly an explosion overall in the already historically low number of entries.
From Sandweg, whose interview doesn't seem to be online anywhere (to my frustration) I got a better sense of how the asylum process could work in a way that's more humane, effective, and cheaper — even if it's being enforced with so-called zero-tolerance (which I disagree with in the first place).

Mulligan and his hooligan minions created this crisis out of whole cloth and racism, nothing more.


Update: I missed this New York Times background story on border crossings, which is worth a read, and included this chart:

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