Dear Democrats: Is this really the hill you want to die on? If so, please be our guests.
As I’ve discussed here in the past, it’s often easier in political terms to fight from the cheap seats as the minority party than it is to actually take control and run the government. When the GOP was in that position we often saw some rather wacky ideas cropping up when candidates would take a viable debate point and turn up the volume to eleven until they reached an illogical extreme. If one candidate proposes building a wall on the Mexican border, you can bet that it won’t be long until someone else comes along and demands that it include a moat filled with sharks with lasers mounted on them.
Now we’re seeing a similar phenomenon on the left where the Democrats are huddled in the minority position. Complaining about deportations, defending criminal illegal immigrants and pushing for sanctuary policies are all the rage right now. So, of course, someone had to similarly crank the thermostat of hot takes up to the maximum setting and call for abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) entirely. The Daily Caller noted yesterday that this is already affecting potential POTUS contenders for the Democratic primary.
Once a fringe idea on the far-left, abolishing the nation’s immigration enforcement agency now looks likely to become a campaign issue in the Democrats’ 2020 presidential primary.
Former Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon came out for abolishing the agency in January. “ICE operates as an unaccountable deportation force,” Fallon argued. “Dems running in 2020 should campaign on ending the agency in its current form.”
“Should ICE exist?” MSNBC host Chris Hayes asked Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris on Thursday. Harris’s answer — “certainly” ICE should exist — sparked a backlash among some liberals.
Liberal writer Jack Mirkinson on Friday slammed Harris for her answer in an article titled, “Not Good Enough, Kamala Harris.”
Kamala Harris is still (for some reason) widely looked upon as one of the Democrats’ bright hopes in 2020 as part of the Wonder Women ticket (along with Kirsten Gillibrand). And now, because she wouldn’t rise to the bait offered by Chris Hayes and call for the abolishment of the key branch of federal immigration enforcement, she’s being taken to the proverbial woodshed.
As is so often the case, it’s almost as if a new set of talking points had been sent out in the background and now everyone on the left is taking up the same battle cry. At The Nation, Sean Mcelwee delivered what appears to be the standard text coming out of the home office in a piece simply titled, It’s Time to Abolish ICE.
The idea of defunding ICE has gained traction among immigrant-rights groups horrified by the speed at which, under President Donald Trump, the agency has ramped up an already brutal deportation process. Mary Small, policy director at Detention Watch Network, said, “Responsible policymakers need to be honest about the fact that the core of the agency is broken.” Her group led the charge to defund ICE with its #DefundHate campaign last year…
“ICE is terrorizing American communities right now,” said Angel Padilla, policy director of the Indivisible Project. “They’re going into schools, entering hospitals, conducting massive raids, and separating children from parents every day. We are funding those activities, and we need to use all the leverage we have to stop it.”
Yes, I realize it’s The Nation, but the message is showing up everywhere on the left right now, not just on the fringes. And the primary talking point found in that article is appearing in the stories much of the media chooses to highlight. Time Magazine chose to run with, “Video of Mother Being Torn From Daughters by Border Patrol Sparks Outrage,” just for one of many examples.
Two quick points about this. First, this entire premise of “families being separated by the cruel ICE agents” isn’t going to resonate very well in the heartlands. If you go take a tour of any of our prisons around the country you’ll find legions of criminals, both men and women, who have children, spouses, parents and siblings back home. If they stole money, assaulted or raped someone, or broke any other laws serious enough to land them behind bars, do you hear liberals crying that they shouldn’t go to jail because the cops are “breaking up their family?” Being in the country illegally is a crime. When caught, the penalty is that you get deported, assuming you haven’t done something much worse on top of that to merit a prison sentence. That’s the price you pay.
Finally, do these Democrats really think that people are behind the idea of simply stopping the process of going after illegal aliens and ejecting them from the country? If you find some guidelines and procedures in the ICE playbook which need improvement, suggest alternatives. If you find a bad agent, have them investigated or suspended. But you don’t lop off an entire branch of law enforcement to score political points.
As I said, if this is really the platform you want to run on in the midterms and in 2020, be our guest. And yet again… This Is How You Got Trump. This Is How You Get More Trump.