Friday was pretty much the official beginning of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s 2020 presidential campaign. No, she didn’t make an official announcement or form a campaign committee. Instead, she tacitly signaled that she was going to be running by joining the list of liberals making the absurd, unworkable demand that Immigration and Customs Enforcement be abolished.
“We need to abolish ICE,” Gillibrand wrote on Facebook.
“ICE has become a cruel deportation force. This agency has carried out the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy, including separating children and parents. People are coming to the United States seeking asylum and a better life for their families – and President Trump is slamming the door on them.
“ICE is meant to provide security and enforcement. But it has morphed into something much more by conducting raids and deporting people who’ve lived in and contributed to this country for many years.
“Congress needs to abolish ICE, and we need to start over, separating the criminal justice and immigration roles. Together, we can build a better system that is humane, just and recognizes that immigration adds to America’s strength and security.
“Raising our voices and refusing to let up is how we’ll change this country for the better. It’s the only way change has ever come. So please raise your voice now.”
There are so many things wrong with this profoundly simplistic piffle, first and foremost being that nobody not trying to sew up progressive votes for 2020 would be spewing it. Most Americans are exasperated by the liberal tendency to, as Thomas Sowell once famously pointed out, discuss immigration laws “in terms of how to help people who break them.”
But, whoever hopes to win the 2020 Democrat nomination cannot run anywhere to the right of Hillary Clinton, which is pretty far left indeed. Thus, anyone who isn’t calling for the abolition of ICE — even if it makes the nation less secure and is merely a move to help lawbreakers and ensure that “demographics is destiny” — will have a real problem securing the nomination.
And that’s why Kirsten Gillibrand has a real problem. She might be in favor of abolishing ICE now, but back when she was appointed to the New York Senate seat following Hillary Rodham Clinton’s ascension to the position of secretary of state, the fact that she was an immigration hawk caused a lot of problems among the party faithful, as The New York Times documented in January of 2009.
“During her one term in the House of Representatives, from a largely rural, traditionally Republican district, Kirsten E. Gillibrand was on safe political ground adopting a tough stance against illegal immigration,” the story from Kirk Semple read.
“Ms. Gillibrand, a Democrat, opposed any sort of amnesty for illegal immigrants, supported deputizing local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws, spoke out against Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s proposal to allow illegal immigrants to have driver’s licenses and sought to make English the official language of the United States.
“But since her appointment by Gov. David A. Paterson last week to fill the Senate seat vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton, Ms. Gillibrand has found herself besieged by immigrant advocates and Democratic colleagues who have cast her as out of step with a majority of the state, with its big cities and sprawling immigrant enclaves.”
— Hanna Trudo (@HCTrudo) June 29, 2018
One’s views can evolve on certain issues, but it’s always interesting when they conveniently “evolve” along with the need to make it to the next step in the electoral process. Sen. Gillibrand is a veteran of this process.
At the time, Semple reported, she responded by “reaching out to Hispanic elected officials and pledging to reconsider some of her positions. Outside a reception in Washington following her swearing-in ceremony, she acknowledged that she had an obligation to revisit some of these questions as she now ‘represents the whole state.’”
In other words, her convictions were malleable to the moment. And until she secures the Democrat nomination, the abolishment of the ICE is opinion of the hour.
Of course, watch how quickly she’ll back away from it once she’s nominated. It’ll be like the Concorde going in reverse. But then she’ll say that she’s obligated to revisit these questions as she now wants to represent the whole country. Who, then, is Kirsten Gillibrand? The answer is the same as the woman she replaced in the Senate: Who does she need to be to get your vote? Who does she need to be to get a little bit closer to the levers of power?
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