Biden Retires a Tired Cliche in Debate with Sanders

Repeat after me: “We are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws.”

Of all the shopworn cliches tossed about by politicians, this is perhaps the tiredest and most overused. And also the most disingenuous. No politician who ever uttered that cliche has had the slightest intention of making sure that our immigration laws were enforced. In the pantheon of falsehoods, this one ranks right up there with, “The check is in the mail,” and “I’ll still respect you in the morning.”

Today, the nation owes former Vice President Joe Biden an enormous debt of gratitude for retiring this canard once and for all. In Sunday night’s debate with a fading Bernie Sanders, Biden finally dispensed with the pretense that he thinks that our immigration laws have any meaning at all or that, as president, he would enforce them. “We can be a nation of immigrants, as well as a nation that is decent,” opined the former veep. If that leaves you shaking your head and wondering what Biden was trying to say, you’re not the only one.

Biden’s new twist on the stale “nation of immigrants/nation of laws” cliche may be an incoherent non-sequitur, but at least it’s new. And, while much of the American public is stuck at home with not much else to do, perhaps we can fill some time trying to figure out what the hell that means. Why would we think that being a nation of immigrants and being a nation that is decent is somehow contradictory, and that we need to get to work on resolving this seeming contradiction?

While we’re all deciphering this statement, we can at least lay to rest the oft-repeated lie told by folks who can never find a reason to enforce the immigration laws they pay homage to. Both candidates in Sunday’s debate made it clear they would not enforce our immigration laws, thereby rendering them null and void. At the very least, they are no longer insulting our intelligence.

About Author


Ira joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant to Gov. Richard Lamm (Colorado), and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more. He is an experienced TV and radio commentator.

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