Here and there, now and then, there are certainly Democrats who support “open borders” — international boundaries marked merely with the sort of “Welcome to …” signs that separate, say, Illinois from Wisconsin, or, at most, the cursory, nod-and-wave checkpoints that used to separate the U.S. from Canada.
The left is home to more than a few one-world utopians, and it’s healthy to have thought experiments every now and then. Why do freedoms of movement and association ostensibly granted by nature or, if you will, God, stop at man-made borders? That kind of thing.
But really, no. President Donald Trump’s increasingly frequent accusation along these lines is a lie.
“Democrats love open borders,” he said in a June 19 speech to the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
“The Democrats want open borders,” Trump said the following day in a speech in Duluth, Minn. “Let everybody come in. Let everybody pour in — we don’t care, let them come in from the Middle East, let them come in from all over the place. We don’t care.”
And on Monday, speaking to reporters: “The Democrats want open borders, and they don’t care about crime,”
Then there are the tweets: Democrats “want Open Borders and don’t care about Crime!” (June 24) “The Democrats are in Turmoil! Open Borders and unchecked Crime” and “the Democrats… want Open Borders and Unlimited Crime” (Tuesday) , “THE DEMS WANT OPEN BORDERS” (Wednesday) and so on.
As Trump has repeated this canard, first on the campaign trail and now in the White House, journalistic fact-checkers have repeatedly examined the claim and ruled it false.
Politico, September 2016: “Trump said again last week during a North Carolina rally that (Hillary Clinton) was for ‘open borders.’ In fact, her position includes supporting recent immigration legislation that sought to heighten the country’s border security while installing a new system that finds people who have overstayed their visas and has them removed from the U.S.”
The Guardian, October 2016: Democratic President Barack “Obama has deported a record more than 2.5 million people since he took office, including a record 438,421 people in 2013, and increased border patrol staff to a record 21,444 agents in 2011; his policy could not reasonably be described as ‘amnesty’ or ‘open borders.’ ”
PolitiFact, June 28: “Trump bases this attack on Democratic opposition to his promised border wall with Mexico. Democrats argue a border wall is costly and not the most effective tool to combat illegal immigration and crime. Instead, they favor other types of barriers, technology, increases in border personnel and other improvements.”
New York Times, June 27: “In 2013, every single Democrat in the Senate voted for the so-called Gang of Eight immigration overhaul bill that would have provided about $40 billion for border enforcement, including deploying thousands more agents and building 700 miles of fencing … And in 2006, 26 Senate Democrats voted to build 700 miles of walls and fences on the southwestern border.”
The Times also noted that all 193 House Democrats have signed onto a proposal that “enhances technology used to monitor the border, and provides $110 million in grants annually for collaboration between local law enforcement and Border Patrol agents.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the young Democrat who identifies as a socialist and stunned the Democratic establishment Tuesday when she upset veteran New York Rep. Joe Crowley in a congressional primary, flatly denied in an interview with NPR on Wednesday the oft-printed accusation that she is for open borders.
“We have to have a secure border,” she told host Steve Inskeep. “We need to make sure that people are, in fact, documented.”
These truths are not likely to knock Trump off message, and the right-wing media seems to have his back on this topic. In a response to the New York Times fact-check, the Washington Examiner’s Philip Wegmann triumphantly offered the counter-example of Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee, who in May was photographed at a parade wearing a T-shirt that said, in Spanish, “I don’t believe in borders.”
That’s one. Maybe. I found no other mention online of Ellison promoting open borders. Ellison’s office in Washington did not provide a clarifying statement when I inquired Friday.
Wegmann’s other example was actor Cynthia Nixon, who is challenging New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.
“Nixon hasn’t called for abolishing the border just yet,” Wegmann conceded, but her support of driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants and making New York a “sanctuary state” makes it “obvious she wants to make (the border) meaningless for anyone who has already crossed over it illegally.”
In this we glimpse the actual contours of the actual debate between the parties about how to secure the border and how to deal with otherwise law-abiding people who are living here illegally.
It’s a vital debate, but saying “open borders” are under serious consideration only serves to poison it.
I’m a bit of a cougher. Compared to my wife, say, who even in the depths of a winter cold seldom clears her lungs with a good hack, I’m episodically practically tubercular. And even a very mild, lingering cold can cause me to dry cough unexpectedly, sometimes prompting my colleagues to suggest I be quarantined.
So my sympathies are profound for the unnamed audience member at the June 23 Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert whose loud cough near the beginning of Luigi Cherubini’s funeral cantata for Joseph Haydn prompted CSO conductor Riccardo Muti to stop the music and offer a quick scolding, according to a news story by my colleague Morgan Greene.
How unnecessarily embarrassing!
Some coughs, like sneezes, simply can’t be suppressed, and sometimes they rise up even when you’re feeling otherwise pretty healthy or have availed yourself of cough drops, which the CSO provides in great quantity. These reflexive eruptions aren’t the result of negligence — like when your unsilenced cellphone rings — or rudeness — like when you unwrap a piece of candy when the orchestra is playing pianissimo.
They’re the result of being human. And when you perform for audiences of humans, you’re going to have to play through them from time to time.
This week I generated two click polls, one for best political tweet and the other for best non-political tweet. The winner in the political division was New York Times TV critic James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) for “The Red Hen should have just taken Sarah Sanders’ order, then spent an hour saying, ‘We’ll get back to you on that.’ ” The non-political winner was perennial finalist @wildethingy for “When my wife told me to stop pretending to be a flamingo, I just had to put my foot down.”
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