Year In Review: The GOP Dramatically Improves On Immigration
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The year 2023 delivered a pleasant surprise to immigration patriots. It showed a Republican Party willing to take immigration seriously for the first time in many years. The GOP no longer entertains Amnesty, at least not publicly. Now leaders openly espouse immigration restriction, threaten to shut down foreign aid unless the border is secured, and every GOP presidential contender wants Birthright Citizenship eliminated. The party is certainly not perfect. Issues with the GOP’s handling of immigration remain. But last year showed that Republicans are moving in the right direction.

The year began with the GOP’s assuming the majority and battling about the next House Speaker. Conservatives revolted against the coronation of Kevin McCarthy, forcing him to make concessions to the right wing of the House caucus. The fight had little to do with immigration, but it did show a party willing to be different from the past. It wanted to focus on matters important to its constituents rather than matters important to the Swamp.

The House did signal its interest in immigration by passing HR 2 in May, with only two Republicans voting against it: Kentucky’s libertarian Thomas Massie, NumbersUSA career rating C+, and California’s John Duarte, a Big Ag supporter with a NumbersUSA career rating of F. The bill would dramatically increase funding for Border Patrol, build the border wall, restore Remain in Mexico, strengthen the standards for asylum, and mandate e-Verify nationwide. Democrats shrieked that the bill would restore Donald Trump’s “racist immigration actions” and serve as a “wholesale ban on asylum.” That hysterical rhetoric demonstrated that the bill actually had teeth to solve the border invasion [House Republicans pass border bill limiting asylum protections, by Rebecca Beitsch, The Hill, May 11, 2023].

Of course, the Democrat-controlled Senate did nothing with the bill. But its passage was still important. Thus the bill shapes the current Senate talks about a border deal. The opening position of the Republicans was near-identical to HR 2. Negotiators want a border wall, the reinstatement of Remain in Mexico, curbs on widely abused asylum policies that allow illegal aliens to stay in America, and restrictions on President Biden’s power to grant parole. House Speaker Mike Johnson urged his Senate colleagues to stick to HR 2’s framework in the contested talks, signaling leadership’s insistence on serious immigration reforms.

Most remarkable was the GOP’s negotiating tactic. Republicans held funding for Ukraine hostage to push Democrats to agree to their demands. This was a striking change. In the past, the GOP would never have dared touch alleged national security concerns or foreign interventions to do anything to help protect America’s border. Thus when then-President Trump appropriated money from the Pentagon’s budget to build a wall in 2019, many Republicans were furious. They argued that the government should not direct defense funding to defend our own border. It was better to keep that money for the Pentagon to waste on foreign conflicts and diversity initiatives.

Now, however, even Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, and John Cornyn resolutely stand by the decision to withhold Ukraine funding in exchange for border security. Graham and Cornyn are arguably the worst two immigration squishes in the GOP Senate caucus. They both have championed Amnesty in the past, with Cornyn taking the lead in recent efforts to get some form of Amnesty to pass Congress under Biden. Thankfully, his efforts have failed. But both have just emerged as solid defenders of the hardline negotiating position. Cornyn strongly pushed back against any backroom deal Majority Leader Chuck Schumer might try that didn’t contain any immigration reforms. Graham, although a fanatical neocon, proclaimed that he was willing to forego funding of Israel’s latest war to get the (U.S.!)  border secured.

These were unthinkable statements just last year. No one would have predicted that McConnell would put Ukraine funding on the line to advance border security. Yet, he did so, and he got his caucus to stay united behind this tactic.

What might surprise readers even more: Republicans stuck to this hard line. They did not cave on Ukraine. They held off, letting the aid be frozen until the new year.

Another surprise: Amnesty was rejected out of hand. Democrats pushed for it in the negotiations, but Republicans said no. Even Cornyn emphasized that Republicans would offer Democrats nothing on immigration. Ukraine aid was it.

For many years, Business First Republicans salivated at the prospect of a “compromise” to sell out the interests of the Historic American Nation in exchange for cheap foreign labor. They dreamed of finding a way to pass Amnesty. But given the best chance to do so in years, Republicans resisted. They knew their voters would revolt. They realized the Great Replacement invasion gives them a strong advantage in the next election against the Democrats. And they understood it was a much better idea to threaten Ukraine aid than to get bamboozled by Democrats into legalizing future Democrats. Amnesty might finally be dead as a serious idea among Republicans.

The Senate negotiations were the biggest white pill for immigration patriots this year. But the rhetoric from the campaign trail should also be good news for readers.

Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, and Vivek Ramaswamy have all made strong statements on immigration. Trump made mass deportations a key promise of his 2024 campaign. He also spoke strongly against foreign “migrants,” and said they’re poisoning the blood of the nation. Leftist hysteria over his comments haven’t diminished his support at all. In fact, Republican voters say they are more likely to support him when he says such things.

Trump’s detailed immigration plan, which most importantly includes ending Birthright Citizenship, offers these initiatives:

  • reduce legal and illegal immigration;
  • reinstate Remain in Mexico;
  • restore the travel ban aimed at majority Muslim nations;
  • reimpose Title 42 public-health expulsions;
  • deport foreign Hamas supporters;
  • block “extremists” from entering the country;
  • terminate the DACA Amnesty; and
  • revoke Temporary Protected Status for hundreds of thousands of foreigners.

DeSantis’ strong plan would also do much to restore sanity to American immigration policy. It would do many of the same things as Trump’s, and includes explicit promises to mandate e-Verify, tax remittances sent by migrants to their home countries, and defund nongovernmental organizations involved in helping illegals get into America.

One of DeSantis’ chief distinctions: his advocacy of lethal force at the border. DeSantis stirred up controversy with this position, but it’s a discussion worth having. What else is America supposed to do against armed cartel traffickers? Lethal force should be on the table to brutally punish the drug and human trafficking cartels.

Vivek Ramaswamy hasn’t been entirely clear on his immigration views. At times, he sounds like he wants more immigration. But what has made him stand out on this issue is his acceptance of the Great Replacement theory. At the last presidential debate, the Indian businessman declared, quite rightly, that it was no conspiracy theory, but instead was the platform of the Democratic Party.

That statement is 100 percent true. It was also a major step forward for Main Stream discourse. Ramaswamy has made it acceptable for GOP and conservatives to discuss the dispossession and replacement of the Historic American Nation. That one statement partially compensated for his dubious views on legal immigration.

Importantly, it wasn’t just Trump and DeSantis who said Birthright Citizenship must end. Ramaswamy has been firm on it, and even the terrible candidates said they want to end it. That includes Tim Scott and Nikki Haley, neither of whom is anyone’s idea of an immigration patriot. Ending Birthright Citizenship is becoming the consensus in the Republican party [Vivek Ramaswamy, Tim Scott vow to end to birthright citizenship during debate, by Brett Rowland, The Center Square, September 28, 2023].

All this said, the GOP still has its shortcomings. The biggest one is the lack of attention to legal immigration. While Trump and DeSantis have at times sounded as if they want to reduce it and their plans would likely decrease the numbers, neither has been explicit. None of them includes specific proposals to reduce the number of immigrants allowed legally into the country every year. Neither has included the RAISE Act, proposed in 2017, which would halve legal immigration, in his campaign platform.

This is a serious error shared by Republicans in Congress. None of them have pushed any legislation to curtail legal immigration. The RAISE Act hasn’t been reintroduced this term. The focus is entirely on illegal immigration.

Republicans in Congress were also too slow to move on immigration. They needed an entire year to make it the Hill to Die On in budget negotiations. Previous budget fights were mostly centered on spending cuts and other fiscal concerns.

Republicans also failed to impeach either Biden or DHS secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. And if they do impeach Biden, it won’t apparently be for aiding and abetting an invasion of his own country, but instead for his corrupt business dealings with his son. A House committee might start the impeachment process against Mayorkas in the New Year. We will have to wait and see [House Committee to Initiate Impeachment Proceedings against Mayorkas over ‘Devastating’ Border Crisis, by David Zimmermann, National Review, December 23, 2023].

All this is not to diminish how far the GOP has come. Just 10 years ago, the party leadership determined that Amnesty was the key to the party’s future and Republicans lined up to support it. Now, no Republican dares do so. Republicans instead threaten to end foreign aid unless the border invasion is stopped. Leading Republican presidential candidates say immigration poisons our blood and replaces our founding stock. The party gets the problem of illegal immigration.

Republicans now just need to address legal immigration and get focused on how to advance immigration patriotism with its thin majority in the House.

2024 looks bright for immigration patriotism. A win on Capitol Hill and a win in November will bring major opportunities for the GOP to reverse the Great Replacement. It just requires the party to remain focused on immigration and not get distracted by trivial issues.

Washington Watcher II [Email him] is an anonymous DC insider.

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