Democrats received troubling news last week from the latest Harvard CAPS-Harris poll. For the first time in the poll’s history, Americans ranked immigration as their top policy concern, surpassing even inflation. Adding insult to injury, only 35 percent of respondents approve of President Joe Biden’s handling of the issue.
Following that, a swing state poll conducted by Morning Consult and a general election poll by NBC News have both shown former President Donald Trump holding a substantial advantage on the issue by 22 percent and 35 percent, respectively. This outcome should not be surprising to those who have been paying attention.
Biden reopened the flow at the border—and with that action, he bore the responsibility to manage it effectively. Unfortunately, he failed spectacularly in this regard. While there was potential for a significant win if the Biden administration had matched its policy shift with an effective government program, there was a lack of coordination.
There was no effort to identify housing or employment opportunities, no outreach to mayors and governors to ensure localities could handle the influx, no funding package to ease the strain on local budgets, and no immediate emergency action to address the backlog in immigration courts.
Melissa DeRosa, former Obama for America State Director claimed that without a management plan in place, Republicans swiftly seized the opportunity. Seeing a political opening, GOP governors from Greg Abbott in Texas to Ron DeSantis in Florida eagerly stepped in, using asylum seekers as political pawns.
She further believed that they successfully shifted the narrative, turning the tables on Democrats who had long touted their cities as sanctuary havens while condemning the rhetoric of their ideological counterparts as racist and mean-spirited.
DeRosa reported that within weeks, buses began appearing in liberal strongholds from New York City to the vice president’s own front yard, while chartered planes made unannounced stops in Martha’s Vineyard.
Although those on the left rightly criticized the stunts as despicable, Republicans achieved a two-fold victory, demonstrating their point on the governmental challenges of the migrant crisis while scoring political wins.
Budgets began to strain, homeless systems were pushed to the brink, and Democratic infighting began. Videos of law enforcement officers being assaulted by migrants went viral.
Individuals like New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who dared to demand answers from the federal government—a responsibility traditionally managed by the federal government—faced political retaliation.
Biden appeared disengaged, failing to attend meetings and instead relegating New York’s governor, a position typically respected by the federal government, to meet with his chief of staff on two occasions.
For almost a year and a half, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, whose home city’s budget was suffering due to the crisis mismanagement, remained notably silent.
Top federal Democrats, including Biden, were accused of engaging in a prolonged 18-month exercise of willful blindness, intentionally avoiding acknowledging a significant and obvious governmental crisis at their own peril.
DeRosa believed that by neglecting to address the crisis promptly, Democrats inadvertently appeared to validate Republicans’ stance on immigration, potentially setting the conversation back decades. Moreover, this issue plays into Trump’s strengths. He campaigned and won in 2016 largely on border security and his promise to build a wall.
Despite not fulfilling the promise and the public forgetting about his claim that Mexico would pay for it, he brought attention to a national concern. Eight years later, by mishandling the issue, Biden is providing Trump with a significant advantage, wrapped with a bow.
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