Calls for open borders wind up closing doors for Democrats

Calls for open borders wind up closing doors for Democrats
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Democrats on the far left appear to be taking their rhetoric against border security, including calls for the abolishment of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, one step too far. Over the past two months, Democratic National Committee deputy chairman and congressman Keith EllisonKeith Maurice EllisonMinnesota New Members 2019 White candidates are never asked how they win minority-majority districts, says first Muslim congresswoman-elect Ellison resigns from DNC after winning Minnesota attorney general race MORE has passionately and persistently advocated his position that national borders, specifically the southern border, create “an injustice.”

In a recent interview, Ellison suggested that because corporations “can go back and forth across the border seeking out the lowest wages,” regular people should be able to “go back and forth across the border seeking out the highest wages.” Not only is this statement in itself completely detached from reality, but it seems to suggest that if we cannot have wide open borders, then we must not have free trade at all. These remarks come just weeks after Ellison wore a shirt that read “yo no creo en fronteras,” which in English translates into “I do not believe in borders.”

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Troublingly, these views on immigration are not far out of line with the Democratic Party as a whole. In fact, a Harvard Harris poll last month states that a striking 36 percent of Democrats support “basically open borders.” This is an inflammatory policy that is dangerously out of line with mainstream thinking. Indeed, these extreme statements not only convey a deeply troubling sentiment, but moreover, they are strategically bad for the party. Congressman Tom Suozzi, a centrist Democrat from New York, was right when he recently lambasted the extremist immigration rhetoric coming from his party. “Open borders is not a winning policy,” he said. “I’m a strong supporter, as are most Democrats, of strong border security.”

With the midterms slowly approaching this fall, regaining the support of independents and moderate Republicans will be key for Democrats in their fight to take back the House. However, in light of contentious issues such as immigration where the party has moved further left than ever, this will be an increasingly difficult demographic for Democrats to appeal to in November. According to a Gallup poll this month, Americans say immigration is one of the most important issues heading into the elections, with 22 percent citing it as the top problem facing the nation.

Certainly, this is concerning for Democrats, as recent polls reveal that the party is simply not winning on this divisive, and potentially decisive, issue. Notably, according to a Quinnipiac poll this month, 60 percent of voters say Democrats in Congress are more interested in “exploiting the nation's immigration issue for political gain,” instead of actually resolving the issue of immigration. Most Americans view the Democratic rhetoric against the Trump administration immigration policies as political grandstanding, and not as a sincere motivation to enact helpful policy.

Even more revealing is the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll this month. It found that 56 percent of Americans see Democratic candidates as out of step with the mainstream, compared with just 42 percent since 2016. This surge can at least partially be attributed to the progressive left candidates themselves, and the direction they are pushing the party as a whole. Indeed, Democrats should be most concerned over the fact that President TrumpDonald John TrumpMia Love pulls ahead in Utah race as judge dismisses her lawsuit Trump administration denies exploring extradition of Erdoğan foe for Turkey Trump congratulates Kemp, says Abrams will have 'terrific political future' MORE’s approval rating just hit a record high.

This rating is driven by his strong approval from Republicans, a whopping 88 percent of whom approve of his job in office. This high rating is inextricably linked to Trump’s powerful confrontation of immigration and strong stance on border security. The 2016 election elucidated that immigration is a fundamentally important issue in our country, and Democrats would be wise to heed what the voters are saying.

By offering no practical limits on immigration and little promotion of basic border security, Democrats are in the process of writing their own political obituary for November and beyond. Even during the heat of the 2016 election, Senator Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersAs Democrats gear up to challenge Trump in 2020, the key political divide will be metropolitan versus rural Entrepreneur touts big solutions, endorsements in discussing presidential bid Warren, 2020 Dems target private immigration detention center operators MORE, a potential 2020 hopeful, vehemently disagreed with open borders, saying that it “would make everybody in America poorer” by “doing away with the concept of a nation state” and there is no “country in the world that believes in that.”

Instead of inciting radical calls for open borders, Democrats should be working to achieve a compromise on immigration with Trump and the Republicans. Democrats must work toward immigration policy that provides necessary funding to secure the southern border, while also creating a pathway to citizenship for individuals who illegally entered the United States through no fault of their own, and who have contributed greatly to the American economy and our society during their time here.

Such a reform would give confidence to independent and moderate voters who currently feel alienated by the extreme views within the Democratic Party. If Democrats bring their rhetoric and stance on immigration toward the center, they will be able achieve a legislative victory which will secure both the electoral future of the party, as well as the future of thousands of Americans for many years to come.

Douglas E. Schoen (@DouglasESchoen) served as a pollster for President Clinton. A longtime political consultant, he is also a Fox News contributor and the author of 11 books, including “Putin’s Master Plan: To Destroy Europe, Divide NATO, and Restore Russian Power and Global Influence.”