The Republicans punted on writing a party platform this year, swearing to support whatever pops into Donald Trump’s head. Shame on them. At least the Democrats had the courage to take a stand.

After the expected buzzwords such as “sensible” and “compassionate,”  what does the Democratic platform on immigration actually say?

Regarding numbers, the answer is: More. More legal immigration. More refugees. The platform calls for rewriting decades-old statutes, expanding asylum eligibility to additional millions who claim domestic violence or gender discrimination. We’d like to help everyone caught in miserable situations, but among just these two populations, how many people in the world are we talking about? More backlogs for already-overwhelmed immigration courts (already a 4½-year wait). More tech worker visas to compete with U.S. STEM graduates, only half of whom can land a tech job as is.

With tens of millions of Americans on or awaiting unemployment, and multiple studies projecting huge job losses from automation and downsizing after coronavirus, this platform isn’t friendly to American workers.

And for workplace enforcement, the answer is: Less. No more workplace raids. No mention of fines or jail time for employers who knowingly hire illegal workers and collude in document fraud or tax evasion, and no mention of requiring employers to use the free E-Verify system to ensure a legal workforce.

Border security? Less. No mention of border enforcement other than rescinding funds for Trump’s wall and opposing cages for children (a no-brainer), which the Obama administration built. Ending all community enforcement actions. And stopping “targeting men and women who served in uniform” for deportation. Really? Do we target veterans? We have a decades-long policy of deporting non-citizens, veteran or nonveteran, who have committed  aggravated felonies. Is this what the Democrats propose stopping?


In the midst of an economic crisis for the working class, the Democratic platform says that “it is long past time to provide a roadmap to citizenship” for millions of “undocumented workers.” This scheme first appeared in the 1986 immigration reform bill, which promised to solve illegal immigration permanently by combining an purportedly one-time-only legalization with robust enforcement. Congress delivered on the legalization, but workplace enforcement was watered down to obtain business buy-in for the toothless I-9 system, which enabled unscrupulous employers, such as multiple Trump-owned properties, to hire unauthorized workers.

Not surprisingly, document fraud exploded, new waves of unauthorized workers came for easily obtainable jobs and economists wondered: Why aren’t wages going up?

Since 1986, we now have an additional 7.3 million illegal residents expecting legalization. The 1986 bill failed because multiple administrations and Congress refused to fulfill the promise of workplace verification and enforcement. The 2020 Democratic platform doesn’t even try to discourage future illegal hiring.

Looking at the whole  platform package – more legal  immigration, more foreign worker visas and another mass legalization – without mention of employer sanctions, workplace enforcement or border security, along with Joe Biden proposing a 100-day moratorium on deportations of people already illegally in the United States, this selective application of law enforcement is starting to look like “openish” borders.

It’s  not a right-wing fever dream. Jeh Johnson, President Barack Obama’s homeland security secretary, wrote last year, ”We cannot … publicly embrace a policy to not deport those who enter or remain in this country illegally unless they commit a crime. This is tantamount to a public declaration (repeated and amplified by smugglers in Central America) that our borders are effectively open to all.”

Is this platform what the American people really want? More job competition, wage stagnation, young people working multiple part-time gig jobs, more competition for housing driving up prices? The Census Bureau projects that we will add 79 million more Americans by 2060, 95 percent driven by immigration. According to polls, only 34 percent of Americans think immigration should be increased, and 79 percent oppose open borders. The Democratic platform might serve their donors, but not the majority of working Americans.

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