Trump’s Sadism — and Democrats’ Accomodationism
“This has been the broader pattern of the Democratic position on immigration over the last decade. In the pursuit of what they call comprehensive immigration reform, the Democrats have persistently accepted the Republican framing of an immigration crisis, and nodded to the need for more enforcement and more deportation, while opposing only the most lunatic excesses of Republican xenophobia, whether it was the Sensenbrenner bill in 2006, Arizona’s SB 1070 in 2010, or Trump’s “beautiful, thirty-foot wall” today.
The result of this accomodationism has been a massive militarization of the Southern border that has caused untold human suffering. It is estimated that over ten thousand people have died crossing the border since Bill Clinton first started constructing a border barrier, the effect of which has been to drive migrants into deeper and more remote parts of the desert as they attempt to cross. Today, border enforcement resembles nothing so much as organized sadism, as Border Patrol agents literally comb through the desert dumping out containers of water they find lest they give succor to thirsty immigrants.
That the Democrats are willing to countenance such brutality, while opposing Trump’s wall as a step too far, is only one of the sad ironies that afflict immigration politics in the United States. The bigger one is that the increasing acceptance of militarized border enforcement in official politics has developed at the same time that public opinion has become less and less xenophobic. In this light, the Trump administration’s contempt for democracy is, in the context of American politics, far less exceptional than liberal pundits would like to think.
This brutality will continue until pro-immigrant public opinion is translated into a political movement capable of confronting both Trump’s Neanderthal xenophobia and the Democrats’ more urbane vision of unmanned drones and seismic sensors. Against both, the Left should pose a simple demand: let them all in.”