Trump Goes All-in on Immigration, Moral Panic Intensifies

President Trump is going all in on the immigration issue and if the GOP rallies to his side, a nationalist agenda could "shock the world" for the 4th time in 2.5 years (Brexit, Trump, Lega/5-Star being the other three).

Events are unfolding as I anticipated years ago. Back in 2012 I wrote:
Immigration restriction will be one of the key issues that delivers a true outsider politician into power. The only thing surprising about it will be how late it arrives and possibly how sharp a break with current policy it makes. Politicians continue to overwhelmingly hold the extreme "peak social mood" view, a position that was extreme in and of itself at peak social mood, but becomes insanely extreme politically as social mood declines. They are very far away from public opinion, leaving a gaping hole for the first ambitious politician who decides to make immigration restriction an issue.
I echoed this argument in 2014 after UKIP switched their main issue in European Parliamentary elections to immigration. UKIP didn't come up with the strategy. They went around talking to voters and found immigration was the biggest issue voters were talking about. Their experience with listening to voters was a large reason why the Brexit vote eventually succeeded. Seeing how quickly UKIP went from fringe to a serious (if momentary) political force based on their shift to immigration also made it clear the pace of change could be very rapid. This wasn't "capturing lightening in a bottle" though, it was picking up a pike of $100 bills off the sidewalk.

In that same 2014 post (Immigration Issue Set to Explode in America; Prepare for Political Volatility), I looked at polling data that showed immigration restriction was a popular position:
A similar shift could be ready to unfold in the United States. Opinion on immigration is difficult to gauge because wording is often fuzzy and left open to interpretation. For example, in the U.S. polls often ask "Are you in favor of immigration reform?" In the mind of a voter, immigration reform could range from amnesty for illegals, to deporting even legal immigrants who may have committed crimes or gone on welfare. When poll questions ask clearer questions, some opposition to immigration usually turns up.
A survey by religion showed strong majorities opposed expanding immigration and thought it was too high:
Catholics: 12 percent said legal immigration should be increased to fill such jobs; 69 percent said there are plenty of Americans available to do such jobs, employers just need to pay more.
Mainline Protestants: 10 percent said increase immigration; 73 percent said plenty of Americans available.
Born-Again Protestants: 7 percent said increase immigration; 75 percent said plenty of Americans available.
Jews: 16 percent said increase immigration; 61 percent said plenty of Americans available.
When asked to choose between enforcement that would cause illegal immigrants to go home over time or a conditional pathway to citizenship, most members of religious communities choose enforcement.

Catholics: 69 percent said immigration is too high; 4 percent said too low; 14 percent just right.
Mainline Protestants: 72 percent said it is too high; 2 percent said too low; 11 percent just right.
Born-Again Protestants: 78 percent said it is too high; 3 percent said too low; 9 percent just right.
Jews: 50 percent said it is too high; 5 percent said is too low; 22 percent just right.
The media doesn't report on massive opposition to immigration because large corporations and the Democrat party want mass immigration to suppress wages and win future elections. The first politician willing to be called a racist xenophobe Hitler gets to win the election.

Back in that same 2014 piece I wrote:
America is waiting for its UKIP. The first politician or political party that steps up and raises immigration restriction as an issue is going to see its support surge. This will totally upend the predictions for the 2016 presidential race since it will allow a populist candidate or party, like UKIP, to emerge from the fringes and storm into the mainstream of political debate.
I posted this video. It crystallizes Trump's support in the immigration debate. This was during the massive influx of Central American children during the Obama administration.
I ended that piece writing:
UKIP was a distant warning shot. The defeat of Eric Cantor was a much closer shot. Few if any politicians have stepped up to advocate an immigration restriction policy. They have nearly all taken the easy road of bashing President Obama for inaction. This leaves an opening for an ambitious politician.
The ambitious politician link goes to a video of Trump discussing Obama's immigration policies at the time.

Fast forward to today. Trump is winning, and will keep winning on the immigration issue until restrictive immigration reform passes. And he knows it.

The Hill: Trump: Dems want illegal immigrants to 'infest our country'
"Democrats are the problem. They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13. They can’t win on their terrible policies, so they view them as potential voters!" he continued in another tweet.
Trump is a master at rhetoric. The open borders lobby wants to frame the debate as good versus evil, moral versus immoral, racist vs open-minded, etc. Prior to Trump, Republicans would almost always buy into the frame and try to fight the losing battle of explaining why they're not evil racists. Trump changes the debate to which policy benefits Americans. The increasing hysteria on the part of Democrats and open-borders Republicans is evidence the pro-immigration crowd is out of arguments. They're not posting statistics showing how mass immigration benefits society because the statistics run in the other direction. (See Immigration: The Key Political Issue for data showing mass immigration is a major net cost for the nation.)

If mass immigration advocates controlled the megaphone and only The Narrative was allowed, they could badger the public into line. Thanks to the Internet and Trump's ability to dominate the media (such as getting them to retweet his arguments to every corner of the electorate), the "moral panic" ends in failure. Calling someone Hitler works quickly or it doesn't work. Once the person refuses to back down, the next step is to negotiate. Now they're negotiating with Hitler. Now it's a battle between two positions. Their position is a loser with ~60 percent of voters. This is why they're in a moral panic.
Members of Congress have introduced legislation to end the practice of separating families, but continue to urge Trump to unilaterally stop the separations.

Trump has maintained, however, that Democrats are to blame for the separation, and has defended his immigration policies.

Media figures, authors, comedians and Democratic lawmakers condemned Trump's language on Tuesday, saying that to compare migrant children with gang members and use the word "infest" was not appropriate.
Trump is a genius with rhetoric. His comments about Democrats are ignored by his critics, but get spread by the tweet. It's brilliant.

Politico: Trump aides plan fresh immigration crackdowns before midterms
Miller, who was instrumental to Trump’s early travel ban — which, like the border separations, triggered widespread public outrage and was put into effect without sufficient logistical planning — is among those who see the border crisis as a winning campaign issue.

“That is the fundamental political contrast and political debate that is unfolding right now,” Miller said in an interview with Breitbart News published on May 24. “The Democratic Party is at grave risk of completely marginalizing itself from the American voters by continuing to lean into its absolutist anti-enforcement positions.”
The Democrats are pushing an extremist policy that is extremist for peak social mood. With social mood far below the peak and set to decline further in the future, they will be crushed in elections where immigration is a major issue and their opponent runs on immigration restriction.
OMB is currently reviewing a proposal to make it harder for immigrants with visas to obtain permanent residency, including a green card, if they or their children have used government benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps or tax credits. Advocates fear this would keep people from seeking necessary help or medical attention.
This is a no brainer common sense policy. With governments set to cut welfare, entitlement and pension benefits, this will almost certainly become law at some point in the future.

Don't Bet the Farm Yet

Calling mid-term elections is difficult because they tend to be dependent on local issues and the personalities involved. Betting on the majority party losing seats is the right bet. Many Republicans aren't as smart as Trump or are themselves in favor of open borders, and they're resisting Trump. If they nationalized the election as Republicans did in 1994 and in 2002, then I would confidently bet on them at worst losing a small number of House seats, with decent odds (worth betting on) of a hold or gain. The have the public, social mood, the data and the bad strategy of their opponents all working in their favor. As for the mass immigration side, their best strategy is to accept they can't win on this issue and weaken Trump by taking this issue off the table. Even if they manage to win in November and deal Trump a loss, he may storm back and take back all their gains and more in the 2020 general if he still has the immigration issue to run on.

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