tags: Press Releases

Key Democrats Leaning in and Modeling How to Call Out GOP on Immigration

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Washington, DC – Republicans’ extremism and dehumanizing and politically motivated cruelty on immigration has been on display in recent weeks. In response, a number of Democrats are pushing back, underscoring the way forward for Democrats to lean in on immigration issues.

According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

“Republicans don’t have any solutions when it comes to immigration, thus their rinse-and-repeat strategy of dehumanizing cruelty, dangerous anti-immigrant extremism, and political nativism. President Biden and Democrats can and should lean into the contrast on immigration; this doesn’t mean blurring distinctions or adopting deterrence-light approaches, but rather standing up for American values and real solutions to our broken system. Thankfully, in the past week alone, we’ve seen encouraging signs from leading Democrats along these exact lines and important new messengers calling for even more. Immigration and the extremism of the GOP is a liability for Republicans that Democrats should recognize and drill into.”

In a New York Times op-ed, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) called on President Biden and Democrats to lean in and draw contrasts with Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) following the horrific revelations of Gov. Abbott’s cruelty. Excerpts include:

“It’s on Mr. Biden to stop this madness. In fact, promoting a humane immigration and asylum system is exactly what Mr. Biden promised to do when he ran for office … He must then take prompt action to replace Mr. Abbott’s disregard for human life with leadership that upholds our values as Americans, including by providing better legal pathways for those with valid asylum claims to safely and in an orderly fashion apply for refuge at legal ports of entry instead of desperately crossing dangerous stretches of the river. This is the president’s chance to show Americans that a humane approach is not only the right thing to do, it is also the best way to establish order and safety at our southern border.

…Be on the right side of history, demonstrate the kind of strong, decisive leadership that Americans are desperate for, and the politics will follow. After all, when Mr. Biden won his presidential election, he did so in part on the promise to “restore our moral standing in the world and our historic role as a safe haven for refugees and asylum seekers. Now is his chance to deliver.”

In a Washington Post column, Perry Bacon writes, “The left needs to win, not duck, the immigration debate”:

“The Democratic Party and the broader left need to forcefully defend the idea that immigration is good for the United States. Otherwise, conservatives will keep winning on this issue — pushing policy to the right and bludgeoning Democrats electorally whenever immigration is in the news.

…The problem is that Biden and the broader Democratic Party’s approach to immigration is largely defensive. The Democrats are (in theory at least) against Trump-style immigration policies and rhetoric. At the same time, they are against being portrayed by Republicans and Fox News as too immigrant-friendly. And neither senior Democratic officials nor those on the broader left are articulating a clear vision of immigration policy to contrast with the right.

…So instead of allowing conservatives to dominate the immigration conversation, left-leaning politicians and activists, including Biden, should defend immigrants and immigration. I am not calling for the president to show up in Wisconsin in October 2024 and pledge that several million refugees will be moved to the state if he gets a second term. I am suggesting that he and other Democrats find ways to highlight immigrants who are contributing to the United States in the way that Reagan described and to attack the most radical rhetoric and policies coming from Republicans.”

During remarks at the UnidosUS conference, Vice President Kamala Harris called out the nativist cruelty in Texas as “Inhumane, outrageous and un-American,” as part of her larger denunciation of Republican extremism. VP Harris stated, “It is inhumane, outrageous, and un-American for extremist politicians across the nation to demonize, target, and attack immigrants.”

GOP efforts to impeach Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas are not going exactly to plan – in part because Democrats are appropriately pushing back. At yesterday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing featuring DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, leading Democrats drew sharp contrasts with their Republican colleagues, calling out GOP extremism and mainstreaming of dangerous white nationalist conspiracies and citing Republicans’ obstruction to real immigration and border solutions, including:

  • Veronica Escobar (D-TX), per The Hill coverage: “‘We know that the spectacle you’re seeing on the other side is part of the Republicans ultimate distraction strategy, impeachment. They aren’t just focused on impeaching you Mr. Secretary, despite the fact that apprehensions at the border are down by 70 percent. I encourage my colleagues who are seeking a true solution to join our effort to address our broken system. Anything short of that is a dereliction of Congress’s responsibility and obligation,’ she said, a nod to the GOP argument that Mayorkas has been derelict in his duty.”
  • Hank Johnson (D-GA): “MAGA Republicans want you to believe there is an invasion at our southern border. But, in reality, the greatest terror threat facing our homeland is the white nationalist ideology that lies beneath such rhetoric.”
  • Jerry Nadler (D-NY): “We can draw a straight line from the hateful rhetoric we hear from some congressional Republicans to that horrific tragedy [the El Paso shooting in 2019]. Our words matter.”