Bernie Sanders Won't Be Boxed In On Immigration

Very good article at Vox on Bernie Sanders' nuanced positions on immigration. Go read the rest:

We're used to thinking about immigration policy as a one-dimensional spectrum: either "pro-immigrant" or "anti-immigrant." But "immigrant" covers both people who are already here, and people who might come in the future. So "pro-immigrant" politicians tend to support legal status for the 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the US now, and increased legal immigration in the future.

Bernie Sanders doesn't fit that mold. He's dovish on the treatment of unauthorized workers, but he's a hawk when it comes to expanding legal immigration.

This position used to be a lot more common among Democrats, because it's the default position of the labor movement. Unions traditionally seek to protect their members from foreign competition, but they worry that a large pool of unregulated immigrant labor could undermine labor rights protections for everyone. But as immigration activists have displaced skeptical labor unions as the defining voice on immigration within the Democratic Party, that worry has seemed increasingly out of step.

That's why it was so jarring when Sanders told Vox's Ezra Klein that opening America's borders to immigrants was a "Koch brothers proposal" — a statement he defended when asked by MSNBC's Alex Seitz-Wald about it on Thursday. Democrats increasingly expect their leaders to be pro-immigrant across the board. But for Sanders, the debate isn't so much about being for or against immigrants than it is about being for or against workers. And that leads him to different positions than many others in his party.


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