For the past many years we’ve been arguing with liberals on the topic of illegal immigration, noting how it depresses wages for the low-wage workers they claim to care about, increases the income inequality that so distresses them, has a disparate impact on the black Americans they champion, strains the educational and social welfare systems that are so dear to their hearts, and even the social consequences of importing Latin American notions about feminism and homosexual rights, but of course to no avail. Thanks to Vermont’s Senator and self-described socialist and surging Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders, however, we finally have an argument that might persuade the left. Quite ingeniously, he’s alleging that illegal immigration is yet another nefarious plot by the Koch brothers.
In a far-ranging and fascinating interview in the internet publication Vox.com, the interlocutor made mention of Sanders’ “Democratic socialism” and “more international view” and assumed that it would lead him to advocate “sharply raising the level of immigration we permit, even up to a level of open borders.” Sanders replied, “Open borders? No, that’s a Koch brothers proposal.” The interviewer responded with a stunned “Really?,” and Sanders added “Of course. That’s a right-wing proposal, which essentially says there is no United States…” An unexpected argument ensued, with Sanders making the same liberal arguments against illegal immigration that we’ve always attempted, and the interviewer not attempting to rebut any of them as he stammers some nonsense about America’s moral obligation to take in all the world’s poor, and it makes for fun reading.
Sanders’ surprising stand on illegal immigration is one of his few deviations from standard liberalism, another notable one being a general respect for gun rights that he’s had since his days in the far-left Liberty Union Party, which called for “armed struggle” by the likes of the Black Panthers and Weather Underground, so it’s not surprising that he couches his arguments in terms that appeal to liberal sensibilities. Casting illegal immigration as a “right wing proposal” is a masterstroke, though, as one can see by how far aback his liberal interviewer was taken, and given the left’s susceptibility to even the most far-fetched conspiracy theories concerning the Koch brothers dropping their name is also a nice touch, but it’s hard to tell if his heresies will help or hinder his bid to upset Hillary Clinton. There’s already much howling about it from pro-illegal immigration Latino groups and their paler compatriots in the liberal press, but they’re already lined up behind Clinton. It could help him peel away a few black votes, but that bloc is also loyal the Clinton family and its most fevered elements are still sore at Sanders for saying that all lives and not just black ones matter. Low-wage workers and union members should find the stand appealing, but the former aren’t reliable voters and the latter are a dwindling number. Republicans will like it, but they’re voting in the other primary and are highly unlikely to vote for Sanders in a general election.
Sanders’ position will have great appeal to independents, but we suspect that most of them aren’t going to be fooled into believing that illegal immigration is a right wing position. The eventual Republican nominee is also most certain to be taking an even stronger stand against illegal immigration, and for the past many years all the opposition to open borders has been by the most conservative sorts of Republicans, and if he hadn’t been so startled even at the fellow at Vox.com would have pointed out this obvious fact. The hard-core supporters that have lately been filling halls at Sanders’ campaign appearances probably won’t being changing their minds about him, though, and at least they’ll be able to tell themselves that they’re not in agreement with those scary Koch brothers.
— Bud Norman