In the end, President Trump’s strategy of ignoring the center and playing to his base by ginning up anti-immigrant angst — something we haven’t seen from a White House in the modern era — failed to keep suburban America in the Republican camp.
Despite a strong economy and foreign policy wins, the Republicans went all-in on immigration, and as a result Democrats now control the House of Representatives.
In the context of divided government, where do we go from here on the vexing and complicated issue of immigration?
Despite vitriol, division, and searing images of young children being separated from their parents, millions of Americans in suburban communities are looking for compromise. These are the voters who gave power back to the Democrats. They are the two-thirds of Americans that More in Common’s research identified as the “Exhausted Majority:” they dislike polarization, they are largely ignored in a fragmented media environment, and, in fact, they are flexible in their views. And, most importantly, they seek leadership that can unify the country.
To find a compromise, we must address underlying fears around identity, culture, security and economics. When we show curiosity and empathy, we can build a coalition to make reforms most Americans support: improving the legal immigration system, bolstering security at ports of entry and at the borders, and extending citizenship to undocumented individuals who are already contributing to America.
We’ve gone through a tremendously difficult time, with newcomers pegged as scapegoats for global migration, economic changes, and new cultural norms.
But there’s good news as we return to divided government: most Americans want progress — and consensus — on American immigration.
Can Congress live up to this challenge?