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Illegal Immigration Is The Democrats' Achilles Heel

Liberal sanctuary cities struggle to cope with migrant influx.

Migrants walk by a string of buoys placed on the water along the Rio Grande border with Mexico in Eagle Pass, Texas, on July 16, 2023. The buoy installation is part of an operation Texas is pursuing to secure its borders, but activists and some legislators say Governor Greg Abbott is exceeding his authority. Photo by SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP via Getty Images.
  • The influx of migrants poses political challenges for Democrats, accentuating the contrast between Trump and Biden administration immigration policies
  • Public concerns are growing over liberal immigration policies, including their impact on crime and quality of life
  • The issue could significantly affect the Democratic Party's prospects in future elections, including the 2024 presidential race

During the 2020 election campaign, candidate Joe Biden joined other Democrats in viscerally attacking President Trump for his stance on immigration. Trump had ridden the "Build the Wall" message in 2016 - to help secure America's borders - all the way to the White House.

Accepting his party's nomination at the 2020 Democratic National Convention, Biden said:

If I'm elected president, we're going to immediately end Trump's assault on the dignity of immigrant communities. We're going to restore our moral standing in the world and our historic role as a safe haven for refugees and asylum-seekers. 

Americans are a caring people. The Lilly Family School of Philanthropy reported that in 2022, individuals, endowments, foundations, and corporations gave an estimated $499.33 billion to U.S. charities. If these contributions constituted a country, it would rank #32 on the global GDP economic scale, above the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia! 

Many Independents were persuaded by Biden's arguments that as the wealthiest nation on earth, we can and should do more to help those in need and that Trump's policies were much too harsh. Unwittingly, Americans initially supported President Biden when he opened the southern border and practically welcomed migrants into the United States. By presidential directive, no new border wall was built, and existing stretches were not maintained. Most families were not separated once they crossed, and migrants were not held in corporate jails.

But these generous policies have overwhelmed the administration as more than six million new migrants have flooded cities and the American hinterland since Biden's inauguration. A majority of them have filed asylum requests, most of which will be denied if the migrants appear in front of a judge because, as the Refugee Council says, applicants must prove that they fear persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or inclusion in a particular social group, a difficult threshold. Most migrants are fleeing for economic opportunities, which are not covered under United States asylum laws.

Fearing that they may be denied permission to remain in the country, many migrants never appear before a judge. Court backlogs, showing seven-year waits even to consider the initial request, add to the chaos. Besides, America's immigration system is incapable of tracking migrants efficiently. Law enforcement can't pursue no-shows at asylum proceedings. The administration just does not know their whereabouts. A no-show at a court hearing becomes an illegal immigrant forever.  Besides, more than a million migrants escaped into the country when they crossed the border by not even registering with the Customs and Border Patrol, so they are truly illegal and undocumented. 

Biden's policies have resulted in a gigantic mess, literally, as migrants line up city streets in temporary tents, throwing trash around neighborhood corners and defecating in public parks. The worst hit has been liberal sanctuary cities like New York, Portland, and San Francisco. Local leaders, once riled by President Trump's inhumane tactics, are at a loss to keep order and cleanliness in these once-majestic and beautiful cities. They are realizing that talk is cheap, but action is extraordinarily difficult.

84% of Republicans and 57% of independents give Biden failing grades, while only 47% of Democrats give him good grades

The worst hit is New York. As the New York Times reports, local right-to-shelter laws - which require the city government to provide housing for any migrant who needs it, even if it means putting them in costly hotels - act as a powerful "pull factor." Eric Adams, the mayor and a future Democratic presidential candidate, declared on Thursday that the cost of caring for more than 100,000 new arrivals could reach a whopping $12 billion over three years and "will destroy New York City." A city with a $107 billion budget, the country's largest, cannot afford to spend $4 billion a year on a new problem imposed by Washington's policies. 

Most American families live paycheck to paycheck, but they see that there is something unfair about thousands housed in expensive hotels, fed well, and cared for without paying a dime - and with no end in sight.

Crime is rising in all cities. A grim reminder - press reports said that a cruel fugitive, convicted for murder in the United States, escaped from a Philadelphia jail and is still at large. Danelo Cavalcante, facing life behind bars, had illegally immigrated to the United States after being wanted for another murder in Brazil - so why wasn't this criminal stopped before he entered America? None of the six million new illegal arrivals have undergone background checks, so even if just five percent of them are offenders, it would mean that 300,000 criminals, including drug dealers and human traffickers, are wandering freely on America's streets, a scary thought.

Images released by Pennsylvania State Police show Cavalcante captured on a security camera © Handout / Pennsylvania State Police Department/AFP
Immigration is consistently ranked among the top-3 issues facing the nation

Americans of all stripes and colors are convinced that the liberal ideas they voted into office in 2020 are not working for them. Six recent polls by various organizations find that Americans, by factors of 61% to 69%, feel that the country is headed in the wrong direction. The RCP wrong-track polling average is 63.7%, alarmingly high for a White House incumbent seeking reelection. Meanwhile, the federal deficit continues to rise as America's proxy war in Ukraine continues to falter. 

Quality of life and crime rank consistently high on American minds when voters go to the polls. Americans may now long for a Trumpian approach, such as a border wall and the Remain-in-Mexico policy, which have proven to improve Americans' quality of life. Immigration could become the deciding factor in 2024.

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