The Myth of Moderate Joe Biden

Are amnesty, taxpayer support for immigrants, and open borders mainstream?

By Andrew R. Arthur on January 6, 2020

In my last post, I analyzed the immigration proposals of Democratic candidate for president (and former vice president and senator) Joe Biden. The subhead on that post was "The former vice president should know better", and he should, but there is another important point to be made: Those proposals demonstrate that Biden is not the "moderate" that he and the press purport him to be, because his positions (at least on immigration) are well outside the mainstream.

Biden's reputation as a moderate is a big part of his appeal to Democratic voters who are anxious to oust Donald Trump. Consider the following, from the Los Angeles Times in July 2019:

Joe Biden took his sputtering campaign onto the offensive this week, unveiling an unashamedly moderate healthcare plan and slamming his rivals' "Medicare for all" bill as "too risky."

It was about time.

The new, more assertive tone should help the former vice president's campaign regain its footing — and could be good for his party too.

From his rejection of Trump diplomatic initiatives that have slowed the massive influx of migrants from Central America, to his promises to effectively end immigration enforcement in the United States, and to his vow to push for amnesty "for nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants", Biden has staked out positions that are not "center-left". They are not even "open borders". They are "open America", a roadmap to a country that punishes DHS employees who are sworn to enforce the law while promising taxpayer funding to immigrants (legal and illegal), as well as a dead-end to any attempt to control immigration to the United States.

You can like Donald Trump or not like Donald Trump, applaud his rhetoric or reject it, but when you look at the situation that he was handed — years of non-enforcement against aliens illegally present in the interior of the United States, flawed laws that lured parents to bring their children on a treacherous journey to the United States and enriched smugglers and cartels, and worksite enforcement that was anything but — he, and his various secretaries of Homeland Security; attorneys general; and heads of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, had little choice but to attempt to get Congress to make necessary changes and/or to use executive power to try to get a handle on a situation that was out of control.

Congress failed to step up to the plate — Republicans and Democrats. They did fund additional immigration judges (although not enough), and reluctantly ponied up the cash to get children out of the horrendous conditions that they themselves decried, but on the structural legislative changes that even a bipartisan panel said were critical they were nowhere to be found.

So the president and his subordinates turned to our regional partners to do their share to handle the migrant crisis, proposed putting teeth into the public charge rules Congress passed 23 years ago, and actually attempted to implement regulations that have been pending for 18 years to end the Flores settlement agreement (which "exacerbated" the crisis at the border, according to the aforementioned bipartisan panel).

Biden would undo all of this, and replace it with — what? Talking points, not a plan, and bad talking points at that. His proposals are essentially just a return to the "Obama-Biden Administration" policies that created the mess that Donald Trump rode to the White House.

Do American voters want amnesty? I doubt it, given the fact that their elected leaders (mostly career politicians with an interest in being reelected) have rejected past proposals to provide it (again, and for the last time, I solemnly swear). Do American voters want more immigration? Not if Gallup is to be believed: In a June 2019 poll, only 27 percent said that they wanted an increase in immigration, while almost three-quarters said that they wanted it to remain the same (37 percent) or decreased (35 percent). Do they want more or less enforcement at the border? Emerson Polling in January 2019 found 55 percent of voters wanted increased enforcement, while 24 percent wanted decreased enforcement — at a time that the same poll gave Donald Trump a 42-percent approval rating, meaning that it was not just die-hard Trump supporters who wanted an increase.

I have previously written about a poll that was purportedly produced for House Majority Forward, "an 'affiliate' of House Majority PAC, a political action committee dedicated to electing Democrats to the House of Representatives". That poll showed that:

Most of the respondents [white, non-college voters in two New Jersey congressional districts] — across all of the groups — said they side with Trump on immigration. Almost to a person, immigration was described as a matter of bringing "control" to our borders and immigration system (the treatment of children at the border barely came up during the groups).

These are the "white, working class voters" that the former vice president has reportedly been "refocus[ing] on". He may want to adjust his aperture a bit then, because they are the workers who will be in direct competition for jobs with the countless immigrants who would enter the United States (legally and illegally) if his proposals were enacted, and on whom the cost of his taxpayer-funded giveaways (Pell grants, college loans, Medicare, SNAP) to those immigrants will fall, comparatively, the hardest.

It would be easy to view "Uncle Joe's" immigration proposals as a sop to Democratic primary voters, but his history in the Obama administration would suggest that he means every word. As his website states, he "is back and ready to take a hands-on approach to America's problems!" To the large number of Americans who have identified "immigration" as the "most important U.S. problem", Biden's immoderate "approach" on the issue should give them pause.

Topics: Politics