Immigration Fun and Games

Dr. Malcolm Cross

The latest controversy over immigration policy has at least partially abated with President Trump’s wise decision to rescind his family separation program and allow families to stay together while their cases are being reviewed.  After all, whatever the intended purpose of the program—apparently he and some of his aides thought it would deter would-be immigrants from entering the United States illegally—it undermined America’s traditional devotion to family values and humane treatment of new arrivals to our shores.  It’s better that other measures—more immigration judges to review cases, more family detention centers for those awaiting the resolution of their cases—be pursued.

And in theory, it shouldn’t be too hard for Democrats and Republicans alike to find much common ground on the issue of immigration reform.  Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, sounding a lot like President Trump, albeit without his crudities of expression, are on record as demanding an end to illegal immigration.  Check Clinton out at, and Obama at–Spzd0aiWg06xPno23zQ5JwSQYygVisCHX05EKjQwDYFsBPCaT_A.  Senators Diane Feinstein and Chuck Schumer, as well as Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and even Hillary Clinton are on record as supporting the building at least a fence along our southern border ( , and Schumer has said he offered to support the financing and building of Trump’s wall as part of a larger package of immigration reforms (, although he later rescinded it under pressure from Democratic activists (

President Obama also deported so many illegal immigrants he was actually sued by the ACLU (  And while few, if any children were separated from their parents during the Obama administration, children who came to the United States unaccompanied by their parents during Obama’s tenure were, in fact, kept in cages.  Indeed, the first photograph of children in cages, presented to show President Trump’s alleged cruelty, was taken when Obama was President (  So with agreement between Democrats and Republicans on the need to crack down on illegal immigration, to deport illegals already here, and to create some sort of barrier along our border with Mexico, one would think that the basis for negotiation and compromise are in place.

But those who follow the ongoing saga of attempting to find an immigration policy broadly acceptable must wonder if anyone, Democrat or Republican, truly wants to implement one at all, or at least, a policy before the midterm elections.  President Trump doesn’t seem to want to.  It’s been reported that he recently tweeted House Republicans instructing them not to support any more immigration reform bills before the election, and if he thinks that blocking immigration reform, for the time being, will brighten the Republican Party’s prospects in November’s midterms, he may be right.  Public opinion polls have been reporting that President Trump’s overall approval ratings have been climbing and that he is more popular 500 days into his administration than almost any other modern Republican, even Ronald Reagan, at a comparable stage. Only George W. Bush’s popularity, buoyed by his response to 9/11 and before he ordered the invasion of Iraq, was higher at a comparable stage of his administration, than Trump’s.

And the Democrats seem to be doing their best to help the President unite the GOP around his leadership.  More and more Democratic politicians and anti-Trump commentators are calling him and Republicans in general Nazis, evidently to help ramp up potential Democratic voters and inspire them to vote Republicans out of office come Election Day.  But as the New York Times reports at, their continuous attacks are making President Trump more popular and the GOP more united and motivated to fight back, and as I’ve noted previously, passionate and well-organized minorities are more likely to win elections over less organized majorities.  Moreover, as The Hill argues at , the greater the extent to which Democrats and their media allies accuse Trump of being a Nazi, the more difficult it will be to make any sort of immigration deal with him and the Republicans.  After all, how can they be seen as compromising with Nazis?  No doubt the verbal assaults on Trump administration members as they try to dine out will poison even more, if possible, the atmosphere and make meaningful immigration reform more elusive than other.

So even though the family separation policy is at an end—at least for the time being—nobody should expect immigration reform any time soon.  Each party’s leadership is acting as if rallying the party faithful and getting them to the polls takes top priority.  Each party wants to strengthen its position in Congress following the midterms.  Who will come out on top remains to be seen, but neither a blue wave nor a red wave is currently inevitable.

Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present).  He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014.  He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.

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