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A Sanctuary City Spectacle

I'm a huge fan of immigration. The US was built on it. Having a secure border is the first step that enables some sort of reasonable screening process to add needed workers to our deficient labor market (& tax rolls).

DeSantis's recent stunt may well propel him to the presidency. Whether you agree or not, it's brilliant theater.

A Sanctuary City Spectacle

Migrants have become props for both political parties amid the failure of U.S. immigration policy.

By The Editorial Board, WSJ

Sept. 16, 2022 6:49 pm ET

Immigrants gather with their belongings outside St. Andrews Episcopal Church, on Wednesday, in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha's Vineyard.

It’s hard to imagine a bigger spectacle of American political failure than this week’s histrionics over migrants. GOP Governors used political stunts to draw attention to the burden of handling runaway migration at the border, while Democrats pretended to be horrified and change the subject from their own border failures. Migrants have become political props for both parties.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey have been sending migrants to Democratic cities since May to make a political point about their struggles with unchecked migration. This week Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis escalated, as is his fashion, by flying about 50 Venezuelans to Martha’s Vineyard off the Massachusetts coast. Mr. Abbott then bused 100 foreign nationals to Vice President Kamala Harris’s residence in Washington.

President Barack Obama has a home on Martha’s Vineyard, while Ms. Harris said as recently as Sunday that the border is “secure” when everyone knows it isn’t. The GOP point was to make the political personal. The gambits are an attempt to get media attention to showcase the hypocrisy of Democrats who run “sanctuary cities” without bearing the costs of migration, and the Governors have certainly done that.

New York Mayor Eric Adams, who presides over eight million residents, said Wednesday that his city is “nearing its breaking point” after receiving about 10,000 migrants since May. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker declared a state of emergency Wednesday and authorized National Guard troops to help out after a mere 500 migrants made it to Chicago. Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser has also declared an emergency.

Contrast those numbers with the more than 250,000 migrants who have arrived this year around Yuma, Ariz.—a city of about 100,000. Migrant apprehensions at the border are already at 1.9 million this fiscal year and will probably hit a record this month. These migrants descend on border states first, and cities like Del Rio, Uvalde and El Paso bear too much of the burden.

Members of the Biden Administration, including Ms. Harris and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, have ignored this surge and declared the border closed. They claim little more can be done until Congress enacts immigration reform, which they are doing nothing to help pass.

Meanwhile, the border is essentially open, which is an invitation to more migrants to make the trek. The omnibus spending bill that President Biden signed in March granted Customs and Border Protection 3% less than in the previous year, despite boosting overall spending by 7%. Border Patrol officers say they are short-handed and often vilified.

That didn’t stop President Biden from telling the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Thursday that the GOP migrant transfers are “simply wrong,” “un-American” and “reckless.” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said last week that Mr. Abbott’s busing policy should put his Christian faith in doubt, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants Gov. DeSantis investigated for kidnapping.

Mr. DeSantis denounced progressive hypocrisy on immigration in a speech on Thursday. “The minute even a small fraction of what those border towns deal with every day are brought to their front door, they all of a sudden go berserk.”

Mr. DeSantis isn’t known for understatement, but in this case “berserk” may not quite capture it.

This political moralizing is easier than actually doing something about the border. And, by the way, the federal government is also sending buses with migrants to northern cities, as New York’s Mayor Adams has acknowledged. Many migrants have relatives in these cities and want to go there.


All of this underscores the bipartisan failure that is U.S. immigration policy. The U.S. needs willing workers and some of the migrants are genuinely fleeing persecution. But the porous U.S. asylum policy lets too many economic migrants enter the country and claim asylum, and so they continue to come by the hundreds of thousands from around the world.

President Biden has sent every signal that they should keep coming. In his first week in office he revoked President Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy, which had allowed migrants to be removed from the U.S. temporarily. This April he moved to end a policy known as Title 42, a pandemic-emergency power that also allowed more migrant expulsions (and remains in place for now under court order).

A functioning political system would find some way to reform asylum rules, buttress border security, and allow more pathways for legal immigration so workers could go back and forth as the economy requires.

But that would take presidential leadership that Mr. Biden won’t provide. Given his own presidential ambitions, Mr. DeSantis would also be wise to offer better solutions than dropping migrants on Barack Obama’s vacation island. But this is America in 2022, where political performance art rules the day.

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