Why would politicians fix our immigration problems when they can campaign off the mess?
Our elected class — federal division — is spending more time arguing about the mess on the border than fixing the mess on the border.
They have been able to solve other problems. The response to Hurricane Harvey was bipartisan and, as these things go, fairly smooth. And even within the gridlocked debates over immigration policy and enforcement on the U.S.-Mexico border, lawmakers were able to pass a $4.6 billion aid package as stories of horrible treatment of migrant children and families came to light this spring.
Overall, though, the political class hasn’t had the chops to address the border at all — except as a platform for rhetoric, fundraising and posturing.
If results are the measure, there’s not much to measure.
A devoted observer might get a bellyful of this and become a cynic — or go the other way and try to figure out why the pinheads in Washington, D.C., are doing what they’re doing.
But even a cursory glance at the polling in Texas shows Republican and Democratic voters deeply divided in a way that makes it difficult for the people they elect. If the partisan voters don’t overlap much, their representatives can get into political danger by entertaining certain ideas, or anything that even looks like negotiating, with the other side.
Or so it seems if you look at poll results and then watch how the people in Congress have acted — and not acted — on immigration problems that have compounded for years.
In the most recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, completed last month, 28% of Texas voters said that either border security or immigration is the most important problem facing the country. But look inside the numbers: Among Republicans, 46% put those two problems at the top. Among Democrats, only 7% did.
Those two problems top most important issues facing the state, too, with 37% of voters picking one or the other. But among Democrats, 12% chose border security/immigration (14% chose health care and 13% chose political corruption/leadership); among Republicans, 59% said border security and immigration are problems No. 1 and No. 2.
It goes on like that.
Remember President Donald Trump’s proposal to impose tariffs on imports from Mexico if that country didn’t crack down on migrants bound for the U.S.? Among Democrats, 76% opposed that, and among Republicans, 74% were in favor of it — even though Republicans were split evenly on whether that policy would help or hurt the Texas economy. Would a policy like that curb immigration to the U.S.? While 70% of Republicans said it would be effective, 79% of Democrats said it would not.