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America’s Voice Election 2020 Weekly Digest #14

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Key Immigration Politics Stories

The significance of Biden leaning into immigration via the new powerful family separation ad

  • This week, the Biden-Harris campaign released a powerful new ad on family separation, prominently featuring the related exchange at the final presidential debate (Biden: “Their kids were ripped from their arms and separated … now they can’t find over 500 sets of these parents … it’s criminal!” Trump: the separated children were “well taken care of” in “facilities that were so clean.”) 
  • The ad is the morally right thing to do but also signals a remarkable shift in the immigration debate, with Democrats leaning in and going on offense, while Trump and the GOP are being thrown on the defensive on their signature issue. 
  • As Greg Sargent wrote in the Washington Post, “These days, Democrats believe they have less to fear from the issue [of immigration] … in Trump’s hands, immigration has both lost its power as a wedge issue among white voters and has become a motivator for other constituencies increasingly aligned with Democrats, not just the GOP base.”
  • “… ‘In my 40 years as an advocate, I’ve never seen a Democratic presidential nominee lean into the immigration issue with an ad like this, especially one that touches on the border, which Democrats usually shy away from,’ Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, told me.”

Why Trump’s xenophobia isn’t working in 2020 (despite Stephen Miller’s best efforts)

  • While Trump, Stephen Miller, and a politicized DHS led by lackeys like Chad Wolf and Mark Morgan are furiously and unsuccessfully peddling an alternate immigration reality, the must-read Wall Street Journal article “Trump Campaign Tones Down Immigration Messages That Dominated 2016 Election” captures the key immigration question of the moment: why is it that on Trump’s signature issue, he is on defense and Biden is on offense? Our take:
    • Trump’s reliance on racism and xenophobia is backfiring outside of the Trumpian base: While immigration mobilizes white grievance voters who are the core of Trump’s supporters, it also mobilizes the majority in opposition to his cruelty and divisiveness. (see more here)
    • Trump’s relentless nativism has forced Americans to choose, and the public has never been this pro-immigrant. On immigration, the American public has moved sharply away from Trump rather than towards him by a variety of polling measures (see here)
    • Trump’s real immigration record, defined by family separation, is toxic to key 2020 voters. As Frank Sharry told the Wall Street Journal, “A lot of the suburban voters who’ve turned from Trump cite the separation of kids from their parents at the border.”

Will John Cornyn now publicly oppose Trump’s border wall, given new reports of billions more on American taxpayers’ tab and Texas property owners’ land seizures?

  • A joint investigative piece from Texas Tribune and ProPublica finds that American taxpayers’ bills for Trump’s unpopular border wall are several billion dollars higher than previously anticipated and continue to come from raided military budgets.
  • A separate report via CNN noted that Texas landowners are also seeing their private land being ripped out from under them, with at least 75 government lawsuits under way to seize their land.
  • The revelations are another opportunity for Texas Senator John Cornyn to actually speak out in public about his supposed opposition to raiding wall money from military budgets and having American taxpayers and Texas landowners bear the brunt of the costs (see more here).

Racist Campaign Ad of the Week (from our searchable website, 2020 Ad Watch)

  • PA-08: In looking to flip this battleground Pennsylvania seat, Republican Jim Bognet is closing with another attack on Rep. Matt Cartwright for his vote for the Dream and Promise act saying he supports “amnesty for illegals,” while showing old and ubiquitous footage of men climbing over a fence. An odd choice as this divide and distract xenophobia has repeatedly failed.