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Immigration launched Trump into the White House. Will that issue again be a lightning rod?

Trump had immigration to run on. Today's GOP, bogged down by R v Wade, has also crime, inflation, COVID lockdowns...

The Great U.S. Migrant Embarrassment

Biden demolished the Democratic Party’s moral high ground on immigration.

Daniel Henninger, WSJ

Oct. 12, 2022 6:08 pm ET

Wonder Land: With its handling of the Southern border, Team Biden demolished the Democrats’ moral high ground on immigration, creating an opening for the GOP.

Other than the open hydrant of federal spending, no issue more reflects the complete collapse of responsible government than the migrant mess, which now extends from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard.

The immigration problem has run in the background of U.S. politics for years as an unsolvable, second-tier issue. Now it has become impossible not to notice. In late summer, an NPR/Ipsos poll asked if there was an “invasion” at the southern U.S. border. A majority of respondents said yes, it’s an invasion. If it isn’t, “invasion” has no meaning.

With the midterms imminent, Democrats are on defense. Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly in a debate with challenger Blake Masters said: “I’ve spent a lot of time on our southern border, and let me just say it’s a mess. It’s a chaos. It’s crisis after crisis.” He called the Biden administration’s immigration policies “dumb.” Sen. Kelly’s polling lead hovers around 4 points.

In the Nevada Senate race, Democratic incumbent Catherine Cortez-Masto has fallen behind GOP challenger Adam Laxalt, who has hit hard on the border.

Kamala Harris, whom Joe Biden appointed in March 2021 to take on the migrant mess, made a rare trip to Texas last week, appearing in Austin to raise funds and talk about . . . abortion. It’s fair to say both the president and vice president have checked out completely on the border.

The migrant invasion—two million were apprehended at the southern border in the past year—neared a point of comic relief last week when two Russian men fleeing Vladimir Putin’s Ukraine conscription washed up in a boat on Alaska’s St. Lawrence Island, population 1,475, seeking U.S. asylum in the middle of the Bering Sea.

At the edge of the theater district in New York City, a larger fiasco is playing as busloads of migrants arrive from Texas, causing Mayor Eric Adams to declare a state of emergency. The locals in the city of 8.8 million are arguing over where to erect a tent city for the several thousand arrivals. Currently, it’s slated for Randall’s Island, in the middle of the East River.

Mr. Adams says by year-end the migrants could cost the city $1 billion (everything costs more in the city former Mayor Mike Bloomberg once called a “luxury product”) and he wants Joe Biden to send him money.


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When Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis had dozens of migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard last month, Democrats and the press said he would face a backlash for “human trafficking.” Since then, a Spectrum News/Siena College poll found half of Floridians support the flights. Considering how Gov. DeSantis survived the media’s attempt to tag him for failure on Hurricane Ian, and before that his supposed Covid failure, it may be time to call him Teflon Ron.

Those of us who’ve watched this human torrent, thanks mainly to the steady coverage of Fox News, noticed at some point this year that the migrants had become different. In fact, a new wave has been arriving from Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. In other words, many are now fleeing here from communist dictatorships. Some 200,000 Cubans have come to the U.S. this year, not unlike the people who 60 years ago fled Cuba to help make Florida great.

The current migrant fiasco is a national embarrassment. Those of us who live in the New York City area get to see the Statue of Liberty a lot. It’s impressive every time, and nearly all Americans agree on what it represents. With the spectacle occurring daily in the Rio Grande, that core idea of escaping to liberty—altogether unique to America—is getting crushed, maybe irreparably.

Still, it is possible that the unmovable politics of immigration may have flipped this year.

Republicans have been labeled “anti-immigrant,” notwithstanding their arguments that it’s about the rule of law, not immigrants.

Progressive Democrats have self-defined as pro-immigrant, but under real-world pressure, that stance turns out to be a fraud. The Biden administration’s see-and-do-nothing policy catastrophe—drownings, abandoned children, illegal migrants wandering the nation, a fentanyl-addiction crisis emerging alongside—has shocked most Americans. The sanctuary-city pose has collapsed. Whatever advantage Democrats thought they had on immigration, Team Biden-Harris wrecked it. They claim they inherited the problem. Well, they blew it.

Republicans shouldn’t want to be associated any longer with this political gridlock and moral embarrassment. The policies of the Trump years were a thumb in the dike, not a lasting solution. Count me among those who think Mr. Trump knew more was needed.

Democrats in border states may pay politically in November for Mr. Biden’s nonfeasance on the migrant surge. But this tragic mess will remain, with most Americans wondering when their political leaders will resolve it in a way that honors the ideas the crisis is dishonoring—the border, the law, liberty and opportunity.

The party in power’s failure has handed the next generation of Republican leadership a big opening, if they’ll take it.

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