Immigration Deserves Airtime at Thursday’s Debate



If moderator Kristen Welker sticks to her script at Thursday night’s presidential debate, the subject of immigration will be off the table, again.

But the NBC newswoman’s six designated topics — fighting COVID-19, American families, race in America, climate change, national security and leadership – offer opportunities for President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden to talk about immigration at length.

National security, American families, race and leadership are inextricably tied to the subject. As Andrew Arthur of the Center for Immigration Studies noted, “Many if not all of those challenges are affected to one degree or another by our nation’s immigration policies.” 

Welker’s leading topic, fighting COVID-19, has an obvious nexus to immigration. From the beginning of the outbreak, government restrictions on foreign travel were designed to prevent the spread of the virus and to preserve limited medical resources for those already in the U.S.

“These restrictions have received insignificant notice among American voters, except from those who criticize the administration’s response generally, likely because they were effective and because few pay attention to risks that never came to fruition,” Arthur asserted.

Thursday night is an occasion for the president to hammer home the role that immigration policy plays in connection to health, national security and family, as well as jobs and the economy.

Biden’s supporters reportedly are eager for their candidate to discuss immigration. “We should be talking about immigration in the context of the response and recovery to COVID-19,” Ali Noorani, president of the nonpartisan National Immigration Forum, told Newsweek.

By all means, let’s hear it. Such a discussion, however, could effectively expose Biden as a captive of his party’s increasingly radical positions on immigration.

“His running mate Kamala Harris wants to decriminalize illegal border crossing. Biden offers generous incentives for trespassers including taxpayer-funded healthcare and amnesty. These policies would effectively vaporize our border,” Trump senior adviser Steven Cortes told Newsweek.

Political insiders can spin immigration talking points all day long. Better to hear the candidates speak to the issue directly on Thursday night. How about it, Ms. Welker?

About Author

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Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.

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