By Jon Dougherty
When it comes to Democrats and, especially, 2020 Democratic presidential contenders, we have never associated any of them with the phrase “responsible immigration reform.”
Andrew Yang has broken new ground on this front.
During a CNN-televised “town hall” on Sunday, Yang not only acknowledged that there definitely is a “migrant crisis” along the U.S.-Mexico border, but he also sounded downright Trumpian in how he would handle immigration reform in general as president.
In the past, Yang has said he supports providing some sort of U.S. citizenship pathway for illegal aliens in the country. However, his plan would “reflect the fact that these individuals tried to circumvent our legal immigration system” to get into the U.S. in the first place.
On Sunday, Yang was asked to elaborate on that plan.
“We have well over 12 million undocumented immigrants here in this country and to me, the most logical and humane path forward is to create a pathway to citizenship for people who are here and undocumented, particularly for the DREAMers who’ve really known no other home but the United States of America,” he said.
When was the last time you heard any one of the other thousand or so 2020 Democratic contenders even admit that people are in America illegally, let alone that the most popular estimates are very probably low?
Continuing, Yang noted:
And I say to people around the country, I’m the son of immigrants. I believe that immigrants make our country stronger and more dynamic and so we should try and create a pathway forward to help integrate, really, again, 12 million is a conservative estimate. There are many, many people who are here and undocumented that we should integrate into our formal economy and to society if we can.
How would Yang deter illegal immigration, to begin with?
“Well, so right now we have a migrant crisis on the southern border and it’s, in part, because the composition of the people who are showing up at the border is changing, where now it’s people who are applying for asylum,” he said.
“And, unfortunately, we don’t have the resources to process them in any kind of effective punctual or effective way and so the waiting period is literally over a year in some cases,” Yang continued.
“So the basics are that we need to put more resources to work on our southern border. We need more facilities, caseworkers, asylum judges,” Yang said.
“Right now our Border Patrol is short thousands of people that they’ve been trying to hire for months because it’s very hard for them to attract and retain people to very remote parts of this country.”
POTUS Trump has called for hiring 5,000 more Border Patrol agents, but as Yang noted, that’s been difficult. The USBP is hiring, of course, but finding enough recruits to fill existing ranks has been hard enough — likely because agents deal with all kinds of dangers along the border, get little support from Congress, and could make better money doing something else.
In any event, we’re still 100 percent POTUS Trump around here. But Yang’s positions on illegal immigration, which sound a lot like the current commander-in-chief, are refreshing for a Democratic candidate.