The perversity of the illegal immigration debate was best captured by Thomas Sowell: “Immigration laws are the only laws that are discussed in terms of how to help people who break them.” And it would be difficult to find a better demonstration of Sowell’s sagacity than the reaction of the Democratic presidential candidates during last Thursday’s “debate,” when they were asked to affirm that “undocumented immigrants” would be covered by their respective health care plans. Everyone on the stage reached for the sky, thus surrendering the field to President Trump on the issue that got him elected in 2016.
A national survey conducted by Rasmussen June 11-12 found that 55 percent of likely voters oppose providing taxpayer-funded health care benefits to illegal immigrants. Only 31 percent believe they should receive it. It isn’t clear why the Democrats believe this position is a winner for 2020, unless they are confusing the ravings of the Twitter mob with public opinion. If they are under the impression they will win over Hispanics with such an irresponsible policy, they should look at recent polls that strongly suggest they are losing ground to the president among Hispanics. As David S. Bernstein recently wrote in Politico:
A new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll found Trump’s approval rebounding to 45 percent overall, with Hispanic approval jumping sharply — to 42 percent … An Economist/YouGov poll found 32 percent approval rating among Hispanics; another from The Hill and HarrisX has it at 35 percent. In mid-January, Reuters/Ipsos found his approval among Hispanics at 36 percent, the highest since the 2016 election.
Trump has already exceeded the expectations of the “experts” by winning 28 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2016 — matching Mitt Romney’s 2012 percentage. And, if the numbers continue to improve, the president’s 2020 figure may well reach the 40-percent mark hit by George W. Bush in 2004. According to Bernstein, that would put Florida, Arizona, Georgia, and North Carolina out of Democratic reach. Is this really possible for a president with such an aggressive stance on illegal immigration? Yep. In the end, voters of all persuasions will vote their wallets, and Hispanic unemployment has reached historic lows.
And, now that more Hispanics are working and paying taxes, they are likely to be more sensitive to the taxpayer burden associated with Democratic plans to provide expensive government health care to these migrants. And it is very expensive. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, we spend $2 billion on illegal aliens for emergency Medicaid, and this is just the down payment. The taxpayers provide at least $18.5 billion annually in free health care to “unauthorized immigrants,” according to a 2018 analysis done by Christopher J. Conover, a research scholar at Duke University and the American Enterprise Institute.
And this is based on the conservative assumption that 11.3 million illegal aliens live in the U.S. The figure is probably far too low, according to a 2018 Yale study: “Our conservative estimate is 16.7 million for 2016, nearly fifty percent higher than the most prominent current estimate of 11.3 million.” If one adjusts Conover’s base figure upward from 11.3 million to this more realistic estimate from the Yale study, we are really spending about $27.7 billion annually on health care for “undocumented immigrants.” And medical costs are, of course, a fraction of the total that they cost the taxpayers. As Kristin Tate writes in The Hill:
The costs of illegal immigration are comprehensive. Even after deducting the $19 billion in taxes paid by illegal immigrants, the 12.5 million of them living in the country results in a $116 billion burden on the economy and taxpayers each year. About two-thirds of this amount is absorbed by local and state taxpayers, who are often the least able to share the costs.
And now — having allowed the fiscal and humanitarian costs of illegal immigration to get completely out of control by thwarting every attempt by Trump to stem the flow across the border — the Democrats are about to propose a new bill that will transform the wave into a tsunami. The “Northern Triangle and Border Stabilization Act” would affect “refugees” from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, rendering it far easier than it is at present for migrants from these Central American countries to qualify for refugee status. In other words, the Democrats are actively attempting to make the crisis at our southern border worse.
This bill has no chance of getting past the Senate’s self-styled “Grim Reaper,” Mitch McConnell, and even less of eluding the president’s veto pen. Moreover, if their strategy is to harvest a bumper crop of Democratic voters, they must first win back the Senate and the White House in 2020. And they certainly can’t manage the latter if they continue to ignore blindingly obvious realities about our broken immigration system. Even inveterate Trump hater Andrew Sullivan recognized this refusal to face reality among those who participated in last week’s “debates.” For them, he laments, there is simply no downside to mass immigration:
Candidates vied with each other to speak in Spanish. Every single one proposed amnesty for all those currently undocumented in the U.S., except for criminals. Every single one opposes a wall. There was unanimous support for providing undocumented immigrants immediately with free health care. There was no admission that Congress needed to tighten asylum law.
In other words, the Democrats are for open borders, their use of euphemisms like “decriminalization” notwithstanding. But that position is a sure loser. The Democrats remain in denial as to why they lost the 2016 election — Donald Trump’s primary campaign promise was to tackle illegal immigration. This failure to face reality suggests they will be trounced again in 2020. Immigration is the most important issue for a majority of voters, and the Democrats have abandoned the field to President Trump. It will cost them the election.