How the Dem Debate Played in Central America

Some Perspectives on Non-Enforcement Pandering

Last week’s Democratic debate was a remarkable example of how far Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are pushing their party to pander to the Hispanic vote. Their competition for the title of “most lax on border enforcement” was closely watched in many countries. Here is the lead of the story in the Honduran newspaper La Prensa:

The Democratic candidates for the presidency of the USA, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, committed to not deporting children or undocumented immigrants who have not committed crimes and distanced themselves from the policy of President Barack Obama in this respect.

That had to be encouraging news for anyone in Honduras who is thinking about setting out on the long trip through El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico for an illegal crossing into the United States. It reminded me of instances in the past, when similar comments from American political figures led to reports of an upsurge in illegal immigration.

Reihan Salam, writing for Slate about the Clinton-Sanders debate, made this observation:

Essentially, they seem to be suggesting that there is no need for immigrants to go through the proper legal channels, provided they are nonviolent. It is not difficult to imagine such a policy setting off a migration wave that would match those seen in Germany, Sweden, and other European democracies over the past year and that has contributed to a sharp increase in anti-immigration sentiment in those countries.

And then yesterday, on Fox News Sunday, Karl Rove had this disapproving take on the non-enforcement pledge:

What’s involved here is the rule of law. The president of the United States has no authority to suspend the enforcement of our immigration laws, in toto, as Hillary Clinton proposed.

The battered rule of law is a major concern of civil society in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, three troubled countries that continue to see a large-scale exodus of their citizens fleeing disorder and poverty and setting out for the United States. Their bet is that, first, American law enforcement will not stop them from entering and, second, that American lawmakers will allow them to stay. Hillary is music to their ears, and they are learning to feel the Bern.


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