November 27, 2018 | Reading Time: 6 minutes
Just Open the Border
It's the liberal, and moral, answer to Trump and his fascist immigration policies.
The time has come to revisit the idea of opening the border. The time has come because the US is tear-gassing and pepper-spraying immigrant mothers and children in Tijuana, Mexico. The time has come, because the president keeps saying that he wants immigrants admitted legally while his administration slows down applications for asylum while the number of people seeking asylum, which is legal, continues to grow by the thousands, forcing desperate people to act desperately, crossing illegally.
It’s a moral abomination.
It’s time for liberals to take a moral stand.
Democrats have accepted for more than a decade the Republican Party’s framing of the question of what to do about illegal immigration. Democrats accepted the demand for more “border security.” They accepted opposition to “amnesty.” They accepted GOP calls for greater enforcement of federal law. President Barack Obama accepted all these terms in the hope of navigating a course toward immigration reform.
Obama got nothing. He got nothing, because Republican demands were not issued in good faith. They were not issued with the idea that if he satisfied those terms, he could expect GOP sacrifices in return. The Democrats are correct in drawing a line, saying President Trump will never get funding for a border wall. But they should go further. They should stop accepting the GOP’s terms. They should start establishing their own, and forcing a weak and fragile Republican Party to accept theirs. What terms?
Some might say #AbolishICE, but that’s not a moral demand. Even if we could abolish the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that handles immigration law, what then? The border will still be militarized. Immigrants will still be denied rights and gestures of decency. I get the white hot fury against ICE, but that’s all that it is. ICE is a symptom of a moral crisis. We need a moral answer.
Specially, we need a liberal answer.
If this month’s elections show anything, it’s that people who’d normally support Republicans are open to liberal policies if they can see them in contrast to fascism. They are seeing that. When honest people can see agents of the state confiscating infants, when they can see children put up for adoption without their parents’ consent, when they can see mothers scrambling with kids in diapers away from plumes of tear gas, they can see that whatever those liberals want, it can’t be worse than this.
The moral thing to do is open the border—let in anyone who wants to earn the right to be called a citizen (or not), no matter what her circumstances are or why she wants to come. We have a process in place. Let’s put it to work. But let’s stop bothering with all the nonsense about “security” and “amnesty.” The Republicans aren’t serious about them. The Democrats should be serious about things that matter to them. Then ask voters, which do you want? Decency or indecency. Liberalism or fascism. Good or evil.
I have no reason to believe the Democrats will take up borders any time soon. Maybe they shouldn’t. They will have to be forced. That’s why we need to draw new lines, set new political terms, play by new rules. Open the border. It’s the right thing to do.
Manafort met secretly with Assange
Normally, I’d caution against believing today’s news is a game changer, because there’s a lot of people making a lot of news on this earth, and so very little of it is so important that it changes how we understand politics. But I’ll make an exception this time.
The Guardian reported that Paul Manafort held three meetings with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London. They met in 2013, 2015 and in March 2016 right before Manafort took charge of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Why is this so important? Well, to be honest, I don’t know everything about Russia’s sabotage of our national sovereignty. But I do know this: that there were significant gaps in our understanding of that effort, especially whether there were direct links between the the president’s campaign and the Kremlin. About the best we could say was that they attacked us, but that Trump was a passive beneficiary of that attack.
This new report fills in some gaps, calling into question whether the president was passive. We already knew that the Russians stole DNC documents in March 2016. We already knew that Wikileaks contacted the Russians in June seeking to obtain them. We knew that the Russians sent them in mid-July. We knew that Wikileaks released them before the Democratic Convention in late July. And now we know that Manafort met Assange, Wikileaks’ founder, around the time the Russians hacked the DNC.
Obvious gaps remain. The Guardian report does not say why Manafort met with Assange. It doesn’t say whether he knew the Russians had stolen Democratic documents prior to or around the same time as his meeting with him. But it does say that Manafort wasn’t alone. A document obtained by the newspaper “lists ‘Paul Manaford’ [sic] as one of several well-known guests. It also mentions ‘Russians.’”
I say this is a game changer because it enriches our understanding of what happened in 2016—at last, a direct link appears to be taking shape. However, I don’t know, indeed I’m skeptical, that it will change anything politically, right now or even in the distant future. This report is not going to compel newly elected House Democrats to take up impeachment, no matter how much liberals like Jason Sattler (@LOLGOP) urge them to. Impeachment is the right thing to do, as he says, but morality is secondary to public opinion. Only when the public demands it will Democrats act.
The Democrats, however, should lead. This is why investigations are so necessary. Newly empowered House Committee Chairs will deepen the chamber’s inquiries into Trump’s various and sundry acts of corruption and betrayal of the people’s trust. From the dogged fact-finding and diligent pursuit of justice will arise, I hope, a greater demand by the public that something be done about this autocratic president.
In the meantime, this Guardian report, like so many before it, will fall along partisan lines that are increasingly favorable to the Democrats and increasingly unfavorable to the Republicans. (Trump’s disapproval, per Gallup, jumped to 60 percent over the last month; the more Trump remains the same, the worse things get for him.) This is a good place for the Democrats to be as some consider running for president in 2020. In the House, meanwhile, presumptive Speaker Nancy Pelosi will continue extracting pretty much everything the Democrats want while giving nothing in return.
Quid pro quo
When she was running for Congress, Jahana Hayes said she would not support Nancy Pelosi bid to be the next Speaker of the House. But “after Pelosi donated to Hayes’ campaign and her lieutenant, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., traveled to Connecticut to campaign for Hayes, the freshman lawmaker says she’s undecided.”
That was on Nov. 14.
Today, Hayes is no longer undecided. She said:
Since the midterms, the conventional wisdom has been that Nancy Pelosi might not win the gavel, but that conventional wisdom curiously overlooked a key fundamental about politics: quid pro quo. You scratch my back. I’ll scratch yours. Horsetrading is what makes world of Washington go ’round—when it’s not mired in corruption.
Importantly, as I keep saying, the Democrats are different from Republicans. So-called Tea Party Republicans ran John Boehner out of Washington. They hated him. The Democrats are not going to do that to Pelosi. Reporters should understand that.
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The secondary point on migrants is that the closed border is bad for American workers (and for workers in America). The threat of immigration enforcement enables lax enforcement of workplace health and safety laws — because undocumented immigrants fear to complain, and encourages employers to use immigrations agents as a publicly funded force to prevent labor organization: Pinkertons paid on the public dime.
To the extent we want strict enforcement of immigration policy, that enforcement must start with the individuals guilty of hiring people to work for them illegally. Until such enforcement occurs (until the immigration raids target bosses and owners, not workers) it remains a sham that immigrations enforcement is for the public good.