A series of remarkable things happened over the weekend—all of them overshadowed by unfortunate tweets from President Trump and the hysterical overreactions they provoked. But these overshadowed events tell us much more about the state of the country than the controversy over Trump’s tweets, and what they reveal isn’t good.
On Friday night, a mob of protestors tore down an American flag outside a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Aurora, Colo., and replaced it with a Mexican flag. Local police stood by and did nothing.
The next day, a gunman reportedly associated with Antifa attacked an ICE detention center in Tacoma, Wash., throwing Molotov cocktails and attempting to set fire to a propane tank. He was reportedly killed by police in a gunfight.
The attack in Tacoma coincided with left-wing protests at ICE facilities all over the country, prompted by nationwide ICE raids targeting Central American families whom immigration judges have ordered to be deported after reviewing their claims.
Protestors on @ICEgov property just pulled down the American flag and replaced it with the Mexican flag. The group by the doors is growing. Though most protestors are still on the street. pic.twitter.com/X2waaFMEOW
— Matt Mauro (@mattmauronews) July 13, 2019
If you’re a Democrat seeking your party’s nomination for 2020, what’s your response to these events? So far, nothing. No Democrat has said anything about the mob in Colorado or the gunman in Washington, but plenty have issued statements on the ICE raids and Vice President Mike Pence’s border visit.
On Friday, Pence and a group of Republican lawmakers, accompanied by members of the press, visited a pair of immigration detention centers in Texas. Although Pence was blasted by the mainstream media for praising the U.S. Border Patrol, he freely admitted that conditions at the adult facility he visited were unacceptable, and called on Congress to take swift action. “I was not surprised by what I saw,” he said later at a news conference. “I knew we would see a system that was overwhelmed. This is tough stuff.”
Julian Castro made the odd assertion that overcrowding at the detention center Pence visited was a result of the Trump administration “slashing aid to Central America and undermining the asylum process.” Sens. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders all posted messages from the American Civil Liberties Union advising immigrants what to do if ICE shows up at their door. Warren went further, accusing the administration of physically and sexually abusing migrants and vowing to investigate “those responsible” once in office.
Never mind that the asylum process has been undermined above all by the sheer numbers of people now claiming asylum. Never mind that those targeted by ICE have had their day in court and been ordered by a judge to leave the country. Never mind that the vice president’s very public visit to the detention centers was above all an indictment of Democratic congressional lawmakers who for months denied that there was a crisis at the border and withheld resources from the federal agencies that said they were overwhelmed.
Democrats Are Losing the American Middle
What’s most remarkable in all this is that not one Democratic 2020 contender has felt the need to breathe a word about the importance of American citizenship and sovereignty. Not one has issued a word of caution or tried to steer the seething left-wing of their party away from street violence. Not one has acknowledged the importance of enforcing our immigration laws.
This is strange. According to a new Gallup poll, nearly a quarter of Americans now say immigration is the most important problem facing the country—the largest share since Gallup began asking the question in 1993. We hold mixed, somewhat incoherent views on the matter. One in three Americans think immigration levels should be decreased, a larger share than think it should be increased, and yet the vast majority (76 percent) think immigration is good for the country.
It’s not going to be enough for 2020 Democrats to stick to their rote talking points about the border crisis and the suffering of migrants now in detention, especially since the policies in place are the same ones in place during the Obama administration (including ICE raids targeting Central American families). They don’t realize it yet, but they’re turning off Americans whose votes they need.
A recent Axios focus group in Michigan was illuminating on this point. The group consisted of swing voters—Barack Obama voters in 2012 who voted for Trump in 2016 and three who flipped from Mitt Romney to Hillary Clinton. A majority in the group said Trump was handling the border crisis “professionally and responsibly.” Immigration came up repeatedly, and when it did, “Their responses sounded a lot like the ‘America First’ message President Trump has been championing.”
They grew animated on the subject of 2020 Democrats offering free health care to illegal immigrants. “Why would you want to give it to another person from a different country for free?” Larry S. asked. “Give them free benefits, this that and the other thing. That is ridiculous,” said Rhonda H. “We need to focus on Americans and not the immigrants,” said Paul T.
The upshot here is that Americans are paying attention to immigration and the border in ways Democrats and the media don’t seem to think they are. What Democratic candidates think they’re conveying—compassion, decency, outrage at injustice—isn’t what many Americans are seeing. They’re seeing a major political party cave to its most extreme elements and align itself with the idea that American sovereignty and citizenship aren’t important, that patriotism is problematic, and that the American people should have no say in who is allowed to enter the country and stay.