U.S. Electoral Politics: August 2010 Archives

Border wall.jpgDespite the "all or nothing" rhetoric with which Democrats in Congress have shot down proposed piecemeal reforms like the DREAM Act in defense of comprehensive immigration reform, Democrats are perfectly ok with passing piecemeal reforms--as long as they ramp up enforcement and deliver nothing of value to the immigrant community. On Thursday, Senate Democrats introduced a $600 billion million border enforcement bill that will further militarize the border while getting nothing in return for the immigrant community. America's Voice chided Democrats for continuing "to play a losing game of catch-up to politicians like Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio."

Republicans like John McCain are thrilled that Democrats are doing their work for them to punish immigrants until they leave on their own, a policy known as "enforcement through attrition":

"Although, there is a great deal more to be done, I believe today Democrats finally put good policy over politics and agreed we must secure our border first," McCain said in a statement.

With strong Republican support, the bill was quickly approved by the Senate. Democrats for a long time now have been good at pretending to be allies of the immigrant community to court the Latin@ vote, but bad at actually delivering any legislation that does more than further penalize the immigrant community.

The Mexican newspaper El Universal reported that Senator Schumer rejected attempts to attach the DREAM Act and AgJobs to the border enforcement bill. (Hat tip Jose Franco of the DREAM Act 21.) Deepak Barghava of the Center for Community Change speculated in a Politico article that introduction of the bill had been a failed attempt by Democrats at a bluff, but that Republicans "ate the Democrats' lunch," and voted for the bill even though Schumer had only introduced it a few hours before the vote. Politico reported that unnamed immigrant rights advocates said that passing a stand-alone border bill eliminated a bargaining chip for Democrats to pass comprehensive immigration reform. If so, this was a major tactical error by Schumer and shows how thoroughly outclassed he is by GOP Senators when it comes to immigration policy.

This is the latest in a string of piecemeal enforcement backed by Democrats without any expectation of any pro-migrant reform in return. Immigration Impact reported recently that the Democrats have now enacted the majority of the enforcement pieces of the failed 2007 comprehensive reform bill, while getting nothing in return for the immigrant community. Democrats have been the biggest facilitators of the current enforcement-only immigration policy regime, caving time after time to nativists in the GOP even though Democrats hold large majorities in both houses of Congress. These are not allies, they are "frenemies," friends to your face who stab you in the back as soon as you turn around.

If CCC and other national immigrant advocacy organizations are unhappy with Democrats right now, they have only themselves to blame for repeatedly enabling Democratic frenemies, from giving Deporter-in-Chief Obama an uncontested platform to deceive the immigrant community at the March 21 immigrant rights rally in Washington, D.C., to buying into Rahm Emanuel's poll-tested "tough on immigrants" talking points that reinforce conservative frames on immigration. Aside from recent movement from America's Voice to support standalone DREAM Act and challenge the Democrats, to me it's still an open question: Will D.C.-based immigrant rights organizations ever hold Democrats accountable for selling out the immigrant community?

And the next big question with this latest installment of enforcement-only legislation coming from Democrats in the Senate: Will the Congressional Hispanic Caucus follow the Senate's lead and support piecemeal enforcement-only reform while continuing to hold pro-migrant piecemeal legislation like the DREAM Act hostage to a nonexistent CIR bill?

So who are these Democratic frenemies, and what do they have against immigrants? Here is a short primer: