Immigration Pitfalls

An advance press briefing last week teased that at tonight’s State of the Union address the president would move beyond the current border-security wrangling and offer a grand, new vision for moving forward on immigration, involving something Trump has not said before.

That could just be marketing hype, but there’s reason to be worried. That’s because the formulation of this new — dare I say “comprehensive” — thrust on immigration is apparently not being overseen by Stephen Miller, but by Jared Kushner. This has raised alarm bells because of Kushner’s Manhattan millionaire liberal instincts, but I’m not sure that that’s the main problem.

Rather, I fear that the combination of Kushner’s unfamiliarity with the past 30 years of immigration politics, combined with overconfidence in his powers stemming from his success in brokering criminal-justice reform, will lead the White House astray. Jared could end up like Sideshow Bob from The Simpsonsstepping on one rake after another, because the immigration issue is strewn with rakes just waiting to smack the unsuspecting policy entrepreneur in the face. As a service to those in the White House who are new to the immigration issue, here are a few of those rakes, just waiting to be stepped on:


Beyond the broadly applicable stupid party/evil party joke, immigration is unusual because it doesn’t necessarily split along party lines. That’s changing, as the Democratic mainstream becomes increasingly radical, abandoning the legacy of civil-rights pioneer Barbara Jordan and rejecting limits on immigration and even borders themselves. But the Republicans are still split, with a significant libertarian/corporate bloc that shares the Democrats’ perspective. That’s what we saw with the Gang of Eight, and with the various iterations of its mid-2000s McCain-Kennedyprecursor. The bipartisan coalition for criminal-justice reform played a successful inside game on an issue that didn’t arouse broad passions. But bringing together Democrats who support amnesty and unlimited immigration with Republicans who support amnesty and unlimited immigration has never accomplished much. If anything, the repeated bipartisan-immigration initiatives contributed to the alienation of much of the citizenry from our nomenklatura, fueling the rise of Trump.


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