'Democrats For Border Security' task force seeks to redefine the party on immigration

Trending 1 month ago

WASHINGTON — A recently formed group of House Democrats is seeking to displacement nan party's positioning connected immigration to nan halfway and reside a awesome vulnerability for President Joe Biden that could style his prospects for re-election this fall.

The “Democrats For Border Security” task unit is co-chaired by Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, who represents a separator district, and Rep. Tom Suozzi, D-N.Y., who flipped a Republican-held plaything territory aft campaigning connected his support for tougher separator laws.

One point they person successful common: They're fed up pinch nan party's leftward move connected migration complete nan past decade and want a people alteration to stress enforcement. Cuellar's calls for tougher migration laws day backmost years. Then Suozzi successfully deployed it successful nan suburbs of New York. They some say Democrats must do nan aforesaid to win competitive House districts and defeat erstwhile President Donald Trump this November.

“I deliberation it’s a beautiful bully pathway for Democrats. Don’t cede nan communicative to Republicans erstwhile it comes to separator security," Cuellar said successful an interview. “It doesn’t matter if we’re Hispanics. We want to spot order. We want to spot security."

A late-January NBC News poll recovered that Trump has a 35-point advantage complete Biden among voters asked who they judge will do a amended occupation astatine "securing nan separator and controlling immigration." Trump and Republicans are putting a dense accent connected a separator crackdown arsenic their transportation to voters successful nan 2024 election.

In his typical predetermination past month, Suozzi sought to flip nan book by going connected discourtesy pinch separator security, embracing a bipartisan measure to enforce tougher asylum laws and depicting his Trump-aligned force arsenic seeking to utilization nan rumor for governmental gain. He besides called for much ineligible pathways for aspiring Americans. It worked.

The New York Democrat said he has told nan White House that Biden tin replicate his strategy successfully each complete nan country. And he believes nan president has begun to do it.

“I deliberation Democrats are already changing,” Suozzi told NBC News. “Democrats person ever been concerned astir separator security, but now they’re being much vocal astir it and proactive astir it. And I deliberation nan president is doing that.”

The caller caucus includes 26 members including a big of Democrats successful reliable districts, including Reps. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa.; Angie Craig, D-Minn.; Jared Golden, D-Maine; Susie Lee, D-Nev.; Steven Horsford, D-Nev.; Mike Levin, D-Calif.; Jared Moskowitz, D-Fla.; and Mary Peltola, D-Alaska. It besides includes Reps. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., and Colin Allred, D-Texas, who are moving for Senate successful separator states wherever migration looms ample for nan electorate.

“Look, immoderate of nan loudest voices connected nan separator situation person made clear they person nary liking successful solving it,” Gallego said. “The Arizona separator leaders and rule enforcement I’ve met pinch are tired of it. We request to trim done nan sound and get a separator information measure done.”

Progressive leader: We 'can't beryllium Republican Light'

Some progressives are uneasy pinch nan shift. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., nan progressive caucus chair, said Democrats “can’t beryllium Republican Light connected harsh enforcement policies” aft they ran successful 2020 against Trump’s separator policies. She wants Democrats to “start making nan relationship betwixt chaos astatine nan separator and chaos successful nan ineligible migration system.”

She added: “I’ve asked nan White House to not usage immoderate of those harsh statements and alternatively attraction connected Republican hypocrisy.”

The leftward displacement traces backmost to erstwhile President Barack Obama's 2nd word aft he dominated pinch Hispanic voters successful 2012. A celebrated communicative formed that a much wide migration stance was cardinal to winning much Hispanic voters. Democrats, egged connected by activists who criticized Obama arsenic excessively reliable connected deportations, de-emphasized reward for lawbreakers and focused their rhetoric connected creating pathways to citizenship.

But complete clip that communicative fell apart, arsenic nan asylum strategy became overwhelmed pinch much migrants than nan authorities tin process. In 2016, Trump gained crushed pinch Hispanic voters comparative to Republicans successful 2012, while campaigning connected wide deportations for group successful nan U.S. illegally, winning 28%. That rose to 38% for Trump successful 2020, aft his harsh migration policies that included family separation. Diverse Texas districts on nan Mexico border, erstwhile Democratic strongholds, person shifted toward Republicans.

Cuellar, whose break pinch liberals connected migration dates backmost to nan Obama era, said nan Democratic Party was led astray arsenic Hispanic voters besides want to punish lawbreakers.

“That’s a myth,” Cuellar said. “They want separator security. Still beryllium respectful of nan immigrants, but they want separator security.”

He said nationalist cognition has moved distant from Democrats connected nan rumor — not because nan statement doesn't support resources for enforcement, but because “Democrats won’t talk astir separator security” arsenic overmuch successful caller years.

“I’m gladsome that nan White House and different Democrats are looking astatine this arsenic a very important rumor to group — not only group for illustration my constituents connected nan separator but successful different places. So yes, I spot a displacement from nan White House, which I support,” he said. “I spot a displacement from different Democrats, much to nan middle, to nan center, wherever astir Americans are at.”

Sahil Kapur

Sahil Kapur is simply a elder nationalist governmental newsman for NBC News.