Joe Biden might be the frontrunner. Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg might be the upstarts. Bernie Sanders might be the grandfather of the modern Democratic-Socialist Party. But it’s the other person near the top of the Democratic nomination race who sets all the trends for policy proposals. That’s Elizabeth Warren, and her scariest non-economic proposal to date should send chills down every sovereignty-loving American’s back.
It isn’t just because she proposed it and as a chance of winning. It’s because since she’s proposing it, the other major candidates with the possible exception of Biden are going to embrace Warren’s plan with a tweak here or there so they can call it their own.
Even left-leaning Mother Jones and Trump-opposing writer Kevin Drum are calling it de facto open borders because if one were to propose a set of policies to initiate a declaration of open borders for America, it would look exactly like Warren’s plan.
Here’s what he said, briefly:
This is a curious plan. As near as I can tell, it recommends no actions to improve border law enforcement in any way. There’s nothing about either a wall or a “virtual wall.” There’s nothing about E-Verify. There’s nothing about “smarter” or “more efficient” enforcement. No one will ever be deported—except, presumably, for serious felons, though Warren doesn’t even say that explicitly. Expedited removal will be ended. The Border Patrol will be reshaped from “top to bottom,” and will focus their efforts on “homeland security efforts like screening cargo, identifying counterfeit goods, and preventing smuggling and trafficking.” The whole thing is very similar to Julian Castro’s plan.
I have previously criticized Republicans who accused liberals of wanting “open borders.” President Trump tweets about this endlessly. But I have to admit that it’s hard to see much daylight between Warren’s plan and de facto open borders. As near as I can tell, CBP will be retasked away from patrolling the border looking for illegal crossings; if border officers happen to apprehend someone, they’ll be released almost immediately; if they bother to show up for their court date, they’ll have a lawyer appointed for them; and employers will have no particular reason to fear giving them a job.
The short and quite obvious answer to Drum’s headline question is, “Yep.”
For the longer answer, we have to go all the way back to the 2016 election when Sanders was trying to lay the foundation for something that seemed conspicuously like open borders. His immigration policies weren’t discussed much because his economic and healthcare plans were so radical for the time, they sucked all the progressive air out of the room. Sanders excited people with his bold discussions of fairness and hosing the rich, so much so that in the wake of his loss, the Justice Democrats were formed and progressive activists started taking over the Democratic Party.
Many of them came from Bernie’s camp. Others were brought in from the Green Party based on a promise of an environmental policy upheaval which we now know turned into the Green New Deal. What this group was able to accomplish in a little over a year was nothing short of embarrassing to all other similar movements. They succeeded where others failed miserably and were able to install Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley. Ilhan Omar would join them after the midterm elections and “The Squad” was born.
This is where Warren comes into play. She’s a capitalist turned socialist who made the change early enough that her past fiscal conservatism won’t be held against her. Nobody can doubt her progressive bonafides anymore. After a rocky start to her presidential bid, she decided to take a page or two out of the Justice Democrats’ playbook and start throwing radical proposals in the air. Magically, they stuck, and as the far-left base of the New Democratic Party saw them, these proposals were allowed to remain afloat.
Cue the rest of the field. They saw what was working for Warren and were quick to embrace the ideas.
But most of them were economic. Free school. Free healthcare. Reparations. Spend trillions on the environmental plan that’s actually an economic plan. And now, we can add open borders to the list.
What Democrats have learned recently is you don’t sell one of two ways: huge ideas that can be negotiated down to big ideas like the Green New Deal, or small ideas that, when combined, yield a result that shall not be named. Saving the environment is popular, so the Green New Deal was proposed using the first sales tactic. Open borders are not popular in name, so she’s selling it using the second principle.
If you stop securing the border, stop deportations, stop penalties for hiring illegal immigrants, decriminalize illegal border crossings, and offer a pathway to citizenship, you have open borders. Warren is too scared to name it now, but that’s exactly what it is.
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