Each Friday through Election Day, we disseminate this memo highlighting the key 2020 developments at the intersection of electoral politics and immigration
Key Immigration Politics Stories
- Politicized DHS goes all in to aid Trump’s campaign: An AP story highlights how DHS’s illegally appointed acting leaders are driving a host of hardline immigration policies designed to generate headlines reflecting Trump’s go-to narrative of scary immigrants.
- $82 Million to paint the stupid $15 billion border wall black? President Trump is pushing for 82 miles of the border wall in Texas to be painted black, at the cost of “an extra $1 million per mile.”
- “The Cornyn Con” on immigration roils Texas Senate race: As they head into tonight’s debate, Senator John Cornyn is in a tough re-election fight against Democratic challenger M.J. Hegar. Cornyn’s so desperate he’s trying to sell himself to Latinos as a champion of Dreamers, despite a consistent record of voting against the bipartisan Dream Act.
- Sharp immigration contrasts in Arizona Senate debate: Democratic challenger Mark Kelly leans into support for Dreamers while Trumpified Republican Senator Martha McSally robotically rants against Muslim women in Congress (see our new video on the debate and McSally’s ugly xenophobia on display).
- Growing Democratic coalition puts Sun Belt states in play: A must-read New York Times article highlights how the combination of the diversifying electorate and a backlash to Trump’s extremism is putting a host of Sun Belt states in play – from Georgia to Texas to Arizona – with potentially massive consequences for 2020 and beyond.
Politicized DHS goes all in to aid Trump’s campaign
- An Associated Press story from Ben Fox and Elliot Spagat, “Trump administration turns to immigration as vote nears,” notes:
- “It had the ingredients of a President Donald Trump campaign speech: dangerous immigrants, attacks on Democrat-run cities, even a mention of ‘America First.’ But it was Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, announcing a routine, and relatively minor, enforcement operation Wednesday at a Washington news conference.
- … it was the third time in a week the administration rolled out actions to appear tough on immigration … And it added to charges from Trump critics that DHS and other agencies have become overtly politicized under this president.”
- Frank Sharry stated, “Chad Wolf’s paycheck is paid for by American taxpayers, not Trump’s reelection campaign. Hyped immigration raids in blue cities, election-year billboards in swing states, and photo ops at the border wall are not aimed at serving the public, they are aimed at pleasing a desperate and losing candidate.”
- Continued Sharry: “But Trump’s go-to political comfort food of stoking racial division and the scary Black and Brown ‘other’ is not working. In fact, much like in contested elections in 2017, 2018 and 2019, it is likely to backfire with voters everywhere, except with hardcore supporters.”
$82 million to paint the stupid $15 billion border wall black?
- CNN reports that President Trump is pushing for 82 miles of the border wall in Texas to be painted black, at the cost of “an extra $1 million per mile.”
- The piece notes: “current and former agency officials argue the painted finish would have little effectiveness, saying it’s largely being done to placate the President…”
- AV Communication Director Douglas Rivlin stated: “what’s $80 million in black paint when you’ve stolen $15 billion from U.S. taxpayers and the military to build the wall in the first place … Trump’s obsession with wall symbolism fits neatly alongside other monstrous examples of his recklessness: standing with the Bible in front of a church he’s never entered; having Secret Service drive him in a SUV around Walter Reed’s perimeter to waive at supporters; and waving and wheezing from the White House balcony as he endangers everyone around him. He doesn’t care about anything but his ego and the symbols that he thinks benefit him politically and make him look like a strongman.”
“The Cornyn Con” on immigration roils Texas Senate race
- Friday night features a Senate debate between Senator John Cornyn and Democratic challenger M.J. Hegar. Polls show the contest is surprisingly close.
- Ahead of the debate, we ask four key questions for Cornyn on immigration:
- Question #1: You say you support Dreamers’ citizenship and a standalone bill – so will you call for a vote on the “Dream and Promise Act” (H.R.6)?
- Question #2: Do you support the seizing of private land to build President Trump’s border wall?
- Question #3: Why did you side with President Trump to raid money appropriated by Congress for the military and FEMA and put it toward the border wall?
- Question #4: How have you used your supposed Senate power and leadership to move forward pro-immigrant policies for Texas and check Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda?
- Beware the Cornyn Con: He promises Latinos and the pro-immigration business community in Texas he’s fighting for reform in DC; but in the Senate he opposes and undercuts the Dream Act and immigration reform so he won’t get on the wrong side of the hard right GOP in Texas. After 18 years of this weak-kneed two-step, Cornyn’s dance is being called out.
Sharp immigration contrasts in Arizona Senate debate
- In Tuesday’s Arizona Senate debate between Democratic challenger Mark Kelly and Republican incumbent Martha McSally, Kelly was clear on his support for immediate, standalone legislation to put Dreamers on a path to citizenship.
- Senator McSally repeatedly praised the President’s border wall, parroted evasive talking points blaming China, and repeatedly attacked Reps. Rashida Talib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), two American Muslim women serving in Congress, for no reason other than xenophobia. Subtle, she’s not.
- See this new America’s Voice video for a recap of the Arizona Senate debate and McSally’s ugly and irrelevant xenophobia on display
Growing Democratic coalition puts Sun Belt states in play
- A New York Times story from this morning – Trump’s Struggles Ripple Across the Sun Belt, Endangering G.O.P. Stronghold – lays out how the emerging Democratic coalition is making Sun Belt states like Georgia, Texas, and Arizona competitive.
- “Mr. Biden is mounting an assertive campaign and facing rising pressure to do more in the historically Republican region. He is buttressed by a fund-raising gusher for Democratic candidates, overwhelming support from people of color and defections from the G.O.P. among college-educated whites in and around cities like Atlanta, Houston and Phoenix.”
- David Holt, the Republican mayor of Oklahoma City, saying, “Cities in states like Arizona and Texas are attracting young people, highly-educated people, and people of color — all groups that the national Republican Party has walked away from the last four years. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, a Democrat, “said Republicans had left a wide space for her party in her region by clinging to ‘messaging that’s 40 years old’ on issues like immigration and climate.”
Racist Campaign Ads of the Week (from our newly remodeled site, 2020 Ad Watch)
PA-08: Jim Bognet is out with an ad attacking Rep. Matt Cartright for his vote on “The American Dream and Promise Act,” (H.R. 6) which offers citizenship to Dreamers. It’s the first ad that we have found attacking a House member on their vote for this bill. But Bognet is likely just signaling his own anti-immigrant zealotry instead of engaging in a winning strategy (witness the 13-points loss by infamous xenophobe and Bognet’s former boss Lou Barletta in the Senate race in 2018 and the 10-point loss by 2018 Republican House candidate John Chrin against Cartwright in 2018 after employing a similar anti-immigrant messaging strategy).