The government shutdown is over -- for now -- but the political ramifications are still being sorted out. The media has been chortling that Donald Trump "caved," and he may well have lost this battle with congressional Democrats. Their "victory," such as it is, is to notify American voters that they are so opposed to a wall and a secure border that they were willing to keep the government shut down for four weeks to ensure it doesn't happen.
Trump has thus exposed the Pelosi-Schumer Democrats as being hopelessly soft on illegal immigration. Some Democrats are starting to wonder whether they have dug their own political grave for 2020. This is why in recent days congressional Democrats are screaming from the rafters that they are for border security -- just not the way Trump wants to do it.
The reality is far from this spin. At the start of the shutdown, the Pelosi crowd was saying that "there is no border crisis" and that "a wall is immoral." But actions speak louder than words, and every response to illegal immigration over the past decade proves they don't want it stopped. Democrats have instead openly encouraged illegal immigration.
Let's start with the 2018 midterm campaigns. The rallying cry of many prominent Democrats running for Congress was to "abolish ICE," the federal border patrol agency. This position wasn't way outside the mainstream of Democratic thinking, and it was embraced by the new darling of the party, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the latest Democratic presidential aspirant, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand from New York.
So the party that doesn't want a wall and doesn't want border agents is now trying to convince Americans that they really want border security. Right. And Bill Cosby is a woman's rights advocate.
One of the Democrats' objections to the wall, and it is a legitimate point, is that about half of those in this country illegally simply overstay their visas. A wall won't stop that. To stop visa overstayers requires internal enforcement of the immigration laws. Democrats say they favor those measures.
Where? When? How?
Most Democrats have long been supportive of the policy of "catch and release." This means tens of thousands of illegal immigrants are basically released back on to the streets after apprehension. That's some deterrence.
Democrats and left-wing supporters have continually trashed border agents for mistreatment of migrants. There are certainly abuses and those should never be tolerated. But it's a tough and dangerous job working on the border, and why is it that the left always refuses to take the side of the people enforcing the laws?
Meanwhile, Democrats routinely resist all attempts to deny illegal immigrants welfare benefits, including food stamps, unemployment benefits, the earned income tax credit, public housing and Medicaid. They also almost universally support subsidized college tuition to illegal immigrants.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office has just reported that in 2017, there were about $37 billion in improper or fraudulent Medicaid payments. Many of these payments went to noncitizen households. The Census Bureau reports that more than half of noncitizen households are collecting welfare benefits. Yet the left opposes doing anything about these abuses when welfare reform is debated.
Let us just say that all of these policies send a welcoming message to aspiring immigrants looking to enter America illegally.
Perhaps worst of all are the sanctuary city policies in 200 cities across America, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Baltimore, Chicago, Portland, Seattle and New York. This announces, like a blaring billboard to illegal immigrants, "If you can get your way to L.A. or Chicago, you've got a permanent home here. The local police aren't allowed to turn you over to the feds or cooperate with ICE agents."
I have not heard a single prominent national Democrat attack this pro-illegal immigration maneuver. And the fad is growing each year.
What is clear is this: You can be for sanctuary cities or you can be for combating illegal immigration. But sorry, you can't be for both. When I have brought this up on CNN, liberals protest indignantly that sanctuary cities are a red herring. But not one city that I know of has stopped providing safe harbor for illegal immigrants.
In other words, Democrats have shown no interest in border enforcement or providing funding to secure the border. They have shown no interest in internal immigration enforcement. But the American voters do want secure borders, and that's one big reason Trump won the presidency. My suspicion is that with the Dems announcing to all of America over the past four weeks that they are the pro-illegal immigration party, Donald Trump's likelihood of being re-elected has gone way up.
Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with FreedomWorks. He is the co-author of "Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive the American Economy."