The Democrats' immigration problem

Do Democrats still favor the deportation of anyone? Some activists criticized Obama as the “deporter in chief.” But he focused deportations on only two groups: recent arrivals and immigrants who committed serious crimes.

If Democrats prefer a more lenient policy than Obama’s, it isn’t clear whether they support the deportation of anybody — or whether they instead believe that the humane solution is to allow everybody who manages to enter the U.S., legally or illegally, to remain. The party’s 2020 platform doesn’t mention any conditions in which deportation is acceptable. Biden’s attempt to halt deportations for 100 days highlights the party’s new attitude.

Which migrants should be turned away at the border? And what should happen to them next?

There are no easy answers. One option is to prevent people from entering (as is now the case with many adults traveling alone) — but that can create miserable conditions on Mexico’s side of the border. A second is to detain people in the U.S. while their legal cases are being considered — but detaining children is fraught, and many Democrats consider the jailing of any immigrants akin to Trumpism.