The first Democratic presidential debates are over, and exactly how far to the left the party has lurched on immigration became painfully visible (and risible to the extent that one can laugh about positions that are so far out of whack and which would inflict so much harm to the body politic) as each candidate strove to outdo the other with giveaway program promises that can't possibly be kept, given the state of our divided nation (and Congress).
The pandering tone toward the most extreme portion of their base was so remarkable that the editors at National Review have called Democrats “The Party of Illegal Immigration”.
There are so many issues raised by the candidates' positions that are deserving of comment that it would be impossible to address them all without committing oneself to a thesis-sized paper, so I'm not going to try. I'd rather focus, instead, on just two that are representative of the out-of-balance tilt of the party toward open borders and illegal aliens rather than the commonweal.
Universal health care. When I say "universal" in this context, I mean not just for all citizens and lawful resident aliens, but everyone including, specifically, aliens illegally present in the United States. All—all—of the candidates at the second debate raised hands in support of that proposition. It's no surprise that the quality and availability of health care for ordinary Americans is a front-and-center issue for both Democrats and Republicans, given the many stumbling blocks that exist for decent health services, and the fact that Obamacare hasn't been the cure-all it was promised to be. But there are many reasons to be doubtful about a government-administered program for all: if you're for some strange reason enthused about the V.A. health care system, you'll love the National Health Service. Now consider adding on top of that burden providing health care for tens of millions of aliens who have contributed nothing to the massive fiscal pot needed to sustain such a system; individuals who don't even have the right to be in the United States.
Although nominally, illegal aliens aren't entitled to public health care as a matter of law, the reality is different because once they appear at an emergency room, or even a county health service facility, they aren't going to be turned away. Guess who gets stuck with the bill? And it's massive: more than $18 billion according to one recent study. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Open the door to every hospital and pharmacy in the United States, once administration is tendered to a national health system that permits illegal aliens to participate, and the bill will skyrocket, almost certainly to a breaking point for everyone, because I can't think of a more powerful magnet to draw even larger numbers of aliens to unlawfully enter the United States. Lowering the health system's common denominator of decent, affordable care for everyone because it bursts at the seams doesn't sound to me like wise policy, unless the Democrats are aware of a forest of money trees within easy reach.
Decriminalizing the Immigration Laws. During the first debate, candidate Julian Castro, invoking the shocking pictures of a father and small child who drowned trying to swim the Rio Grande to illicitly cross the border, asserted that the United States needs to repeal that part of the U.S. code which makes it a crime to enter the United States illegally, 8 U.S.C. Sec. 1325. What happened was heart-wrenchingly sad (even if Castro did manipulate the facts for maximum emotional impact). But I'm unable to make the connection between that tragedy and the proposal to decriminalize illegal entry—other than to reflect on the fact that doing so would almost certainly make it even easier for aliens to cross the border without facing adverse consequences for their actions, and along the way result in more such tragedies, whatever Castro may say to the contrary.
To my way of thinking, it is irresponsible of any presidential candidate or legislator to suggest decriminalizing illegal entry, even though many others on the stage that night echoed his call. In fact, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, third in line to the presidency, followed up Castro's remarks by suggesting that it "shouldn't be a crime". These are rather remarkable words from a woman who has been a member of Congress since 1987, and tend to confirm National Review's view that the Democratic Party is now the party of open borders without limits.
One of the many ironies about Democratic candidates establishing a platform calling for decriminalization of immigration statutes is that sanctuary states and local jurisdictions—nearly all of which are controlled by Democrats—routinely invoke the civil nature of immigration laws as a reason why their police and sheriff's departments should not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement efforts: "It's only a civil violation." Now, using devious but circular logic, they are trying to eliminate one of the few criminal immigration statutes on the books that might sometimes be used to obtain a judicial warrant to solicit police cooperation, at least in close proximity to the border since that's the only place where jurisdiction for the statute vests (something Democrats choose not to mention during their emotive outbursts).
8 U.S.C. Sec. 1325 has been in existence, with minor amendments, since enactment of the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1952, and various predecessor statutes have made it a crime to illegally enter the United States since 1929. There are sound reasons for having such a statute on the books, although one wouldn't know it from the heated hyperventilating rhetoric on the left, which has chosen myopically to see it only through the filter of the present crisis of Central American illegal entries.
Ask yourself this: how will Congress or the public at large react if they find out after-the-fact that Quds Force or other IRGC operatives join a group of Iranians crossing the border. They are not known as terrorists at the time even though there is discomfort at their nationality. But, in the absence of a criminal charge, they could go through ordinary civil proceedings, where they claim asylum and are released—in the very same way as tens of thousands of Hondurans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans and others—only later to be discovered as having been behind a horrific terrorist attack. Will members of Congress belatedly decry the government's ineffectual efforts at detention, even though they are responsible for having rendered civil immigration detention a virtual impossibility?
How about a scenario where thousands of Chinese migrants find their way to the southern land border and seek asylum? With 1.43 billion citizens, China is the most populous country on earth, and a simple lessening of internal controls that inhibit such migration is all it would take for such a scenario to take place. Why would China do this? Perhaps simply as a matter of schadenfreude at seeing our discomfort and ineffectual efforts at border control, but equally likely because, as with the Iranian scenario, it might be an excellent way to establish sleeper cells of intelligence agents operating in deep cover outside of the usual embassy and consulate networks where they are more easily monitored by U.S. counterintelligence organizations.
Decriminalizing the immigration laws, which are already nearly impossible to enforce given ground realities and political intransigence from the Democratic party, is a disturbingly puerile platform for candidates of a major political party who are seeking the presidency of the United States. Were there no adults on the stage that night?