Friday, May 31, 2019

Campaign 2020: The Lack of Immigration Policy Alternatives

Campaign 2020 for the U.S. presidency still is in its early stages.  Democratic candidates Joaquin Castro and Beto O'Rourke, two border state politicians, have sketched modest immigration plans.  Other Democratic candidates at various times have criticized President Trump's signature immigration policies.

The relative silence on immigration among the Democratic candidates is striking given that President Trump has made immigration one of the policy centerpieces -- if not the centerpiece -- of his administration.  Besides his focus on the economy and foreign policy, Trump's immigration enforcement measures to this point are among his most memorable policy initiatives.  The President's base fully supports immigration enforcement measures as exemplified and symbolized by the U.S./Mexico border wall, which the President has pushed time in and time again -- even to the point of shutdowns of the entire federal government.

Immigration has been said to be the "third rail" in U.S. politics.  Although it is widely considered to be a policy issue that requires attention and action, namely reform of the immigration laws.  We may not see many specific policy proposals from the candidates.  The issue is just too controversial, with partisans embracing strong views about the necessary course of action.

Removals, relief for DACA and TPS recipients, reform of legal immigration, detention, asylum and refugee law and policy, and enforcement of the immigration laws are all issues that cry out for attention.  Although the policy choices are at best questionable, President Trump has done a service in bringing the issues to the forefront in the national consciousness.  Time will tell whether the candidates articulate specific immigration policy proposals or, as it appears to be the case to this point, they simply resort to an anti-Trump immigration policy platform.


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