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Home | News | National News | Analysis: Why fix immigration when you can campaign off the mess?
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents escort migrants near the Paso del Norte International Bridge to a processing center in El Paso. Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The Texas Tribune

Analysis: Why fix immigration when you 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.

It’s not a shocker that Republicans and Democrats disagree. But suppose you were an elected official, one who wanted to find a solution that both your opponents and your supporters could agree upon. Hard to find the overlap, except when children and families are in the center ring.

A year ago, when family separations dominated the news and the administration was trying to squeeze off the stream of asylum seekers on the border, voters weren’t willing to support taking kids away from families — particularly when the government agencies splitting families were unable to say which children had been separated from which adults. Trump backed down, signing an executive order halting those separations.

A year later, the country’s immigration enforcement apparatus faces government reports of terrible conditions where migrants are being detained, and the current policy has forced Mexico to hold asylum seekers in camps that almost make the U.S. facilities look good.

Look at the practice, and look at the political conversation. The first is a gnarly and messy problem, but a solvable one. The second has become a way for each set of elected officials — and the people who would like to become elected officials — to appeal to partisan voters on both sides.

It looks like everyone thinks the political gains come from their opposition to their hated opponents — and not from their ability to attack and solve a complicated and frustrating problem plaguing the U.S. and Mexico, not to mention other countries all over the planet.

The leaders are waiting for their followers to tell them what to do, instead of the other way around. While they wait, they’re playing political games.

Disclosure: The University of Texas has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

Author: ROSS RAMSEY – The Texas Tribune

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About The Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. Facebook (@TexasTribune) Twitter (@TexasTribune) Instagram (@Texas_Tribune)

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12 comments

  1. The left only wants to get photo ops and complain, when it is their fault we have no border security in the first place.

  2. The far left doesn’t want comprehensive immigration reform. But on the bright side, I saw that the socialist anti-gun Eric
    Swallowswell” dropped out of his run to be president.

    • Beto O’Dork, Peter Buttface, and Julian Castrated will be the next clowns to drop out over the next few months. Beto was born to lose.

  3. STOMP OUT GOP WHITE SUPREMACY!

    Mad Mike! you praise Donald Trump 24/7 you even have a Swastika Flag for a door in your outhouse! outside behind the tumbleweeds.
    You gotta to hand over your AR 15 assault rifle before you snap and go on a killing rampage,maybe you should have a shoot out with the border patrol in Clint Texas! First! just get rid of yourself mikey.

    • Dumbass Alberto up oosting at EPHP at 9:30 pm and then trolls over at the KKKVIA forum at 2-3 am. Obviously he has a bad case of insomnia. All the years of being a doper. Has a real sucky life.

      Alberto is jealous he can’t own any firearms. He is on the barred list. Can’t pass a NICS background check. Doesn’t even know what an AR15 looks like let alone operate one. Too chicken to go out to a firing range. So afraid he watches his 6 24/7. Paranoid schizo.

      Happy TDS!

      Trump 2020!

    • Come and take it!

  4. The majority of Americans strongly oppose illegal immigration. President Trump has the most to benefit in the 2020 election.

  5. STOMP OUT GOP WHITE SUPREMACY!

    That is what you think Fero, I challenge you to come knock on my door, and when you do, don’t run! and if you do run.You better hope that you can run faster than flying whistling bullets. And bring your body bag with you, because my trash bags are only 13 gallon bags. Your fat ass don’t fit in them.Just face it, you have NO BALLS! as I continue to live rent free inside your section 8 hollow mind! And you own the KKKVIA forum, and you can shove it up your asshole, that is why you are so afraid thinking about me posting over there. It’s the crack cocaine that’s taken over you, and you talk about paranoid, it’s you that is paranoid so you have many illegal guns that are not registered to your name.
    Even those guns can’t protect you ,you dumb ass crack head nothing but toilet waste and scum.
    And Trump lost yesterday, he couldn’t add the citizen question the the census.
    The majority of Americans are not republicans you pendejo cucaracha Fero! Damn no wonder that when you were born the doctor slapped your mother so hard for bringing in a scum bag into the world when there is already Mad Mike.
    When the democrats win in 2020, the Law is coming for Mad Miked’s AR-15 assault rifle,before he starts shooting up schools when he’s high on crystal meth and same goes for you, you cucaracha Fero goat.
    You are loaded with TDS up your culo you whiny fat bitch.
    DONALD TRUMP IS GOING TO PRISON IN 2021! and you can’t turn back the hands of time! Ha Ha Ha Ha!
    He’s going to go and join Jeffery Epstein,Paul Manafort,Michael Flynn,Roger Stone, Julian Assange,Rick Gates and many more.

    • Every time you post your profane-ridden psychotic rants, you make more Republicans, loser!

    • Hey criminal,you’re not allowed to own firearms

      • STOMP OUT GOP WHITE SUPREMACY!

        Yeah! says who? you dumb ass white nationalist! you are the one that should not be allowed to own AR 15 assault rifle! Our gun laws have become lax,that is why there is so many massacres all over the country. Because of idiots just like you, it’s none of your business about my arsenal ,I don’t have any assault rifles, but I will shoot at will, if threaten by you and your white nationalist Aryan KKK racist bigots. So come and get some boy?
        It might be your one way ticket out of El Paso in a pine box.
        TRUMP IS GOING TO PRISON IN 2021!

  6. STOMP OUT GOP WHITE SUPREMACY!

    You are SICK! outta your freaking mind, Mad Mike, what you think that I breed republicans in an incubator?
    you dumb ass SICKO! Ha Ha Ha Ha! Donald Trump loses again, today Alexander Acosta resigned.
    WHAT AN EMBARRASSMENT
    Mikey, you breed psychotic imbecile trash republicans everyday you pinch a loaf!

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