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The ‘Third Rail of American Politics’ Is Still Electrifying

November 04, 2021 (1 min read)

Thomas B. Edsall, NYT, Nov. 3, 2021

"Although public polling on immigration shows a strong shift to the left, survey responses in that vein mask a far more complicated reality. Over and over again, immigration has proved to be politically problematic for Democrats. As far back as 2007, when he was chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Rahm Emanuel warned that immigration had become the new “third rail of American politics.” ... The United States, more than any other nation, cannot avoid the conflicts and disputes provoked by immigration. This country not only has the most immigrants of any country in the world but also is the first-choice destination of most potential immigrants and, possibly most confounding, it has become inextricably dependent on foreign-born workers to perform essential tasks. ... In other words, for all intents and purposes, most undocumented immigrants — and perhaps especially the Dreamers — are Americans deserving of full citizenship. But these Americans are on the political chopping block, dependent on a weakened Democratic Party to protect them from a renewal of the savagery an intensely motivated Republican Party has on its agenda."