First, Democrats should recognize that the public is with them, not Trump. A majority ofvoters believe that immigration is good for America, object to Trump’s race-baiting divisiveness, reject the practice of ripping toddlers from parents and putting kids in cages, oppose his border wall, and want Congress to create a line for undocumented immigrants to get into — with “Dreamers” and Temporary Protected Status holders in front.
Second, beyond calling out the failure of Trump’s cruelty-and-chaos strategy at the border, Democrats need to propose pragmatic solutions of their own. Among the elements: Hire enough adjudicators and lawyers so Central Americans seeking asylum have fair, orderly and efficient hearings — a fair chance, not a free pass. Launch a regional refugee resettlement initiative — away from the border — to rescue eligible refugees through an orderly application, acceptance and admissions program. And address the root causes of migration from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador so that over time, it is safer for families to stay home than to risk the dangerous journey to America.
Third, Democrats need to proudly advocate for a properly regulated 21st century immigration system. This would involve putting the nation’s 11 million hardworking undocumented immigrants on a path to legal status and eventual citizenship by creating a line and establishing requirements; improving and making more flexible a legal immigration system that reunites families and meets legitimate labor demands at all skill levels, within clear and adjustable annual limits; and in addition to smart and accountable border security, focusing enforcement on bad actors, from criminal smugglers to public safety threats to unscrupulous employers.