SOMEWHERE IN IOWA – As the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination tightens, one imaginary candidate sees a way to break from the pack and calls a press conference at a Des Moines Holiday Inn.Good afternoon. We’re still in the early days of the campaign, but already we can see: Immigration is the wedge issue that will divide us all – again. But only if we let it.
“How did we get here? How did we let our furies obscure our obligations as Americans, and leave refugees, of all people, sleeping on stone floors behind wires?
“Both parties have allowed this to fester. And demagogues from both parties are looking to take advantage of it. So let’s start looking at the problem in a new way.
“Since Donald Trump’s election, we’ve seen a tide of refugees at our southern border asking for our help. Only in the last few weeks has it seemed to ease up – and we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. President Trump is right: We’ve lost control of the border. But he’s wrong to send his ICE agents into our cities like his flying monkeys.
“It’s not all bad news. One of the reasons our border is such a mess – why we’ve seen those awful images of detention pens – is because we are Americans. When it comes to refugees, we hold ourselves to a higher standard. And we know when we fall short. We know we can do better.
“We’re also seeing a falloff in asylum-seekers because Customs and Border Protection has been paroling migrants to Mexico while they await hearings in our immigration courts. You may have heard the other day that some of them are crowded in a stifling basement in Juarez.
“When we talk about migrants from Central America, often we’re speaking of poor people who don’t know where their next meal will come from, or whether they can get medicine for a sick child. It’s the same for many Mexicans.
“So whether we pursue a new Marshall Plan for Central America, or resume our role in international councils and push for the global resettlement of refugees – that work will be long and hard. We shouldn’t shrink from it, but it won’t change things overnight. And the clock is ticking. That’s why, today, I’m proposing a bargain.
“There are roughly 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. We’re going to offer a path to citizenship for all of them.
“Any family that has been in the country for 90 days, and any adult who has been a resident for six months, can begin this process. They’ll abide by our laws, they’ll pay taxes, they’ll go to school, and they’ll give back to their communities – as they’re already doing.
“This isn’t some horde we’ll absorb; these are our friends, our colleagues, our neighbors. Never again will they have to hide in a church or from ICE. But that’s only half our story. It’s a bargain, right?
“We’ll work with Republicans to tighten our borders; to build a high-tech wall. We’ll reform our immigration laws to allow would-be migrants to apply for asylum only from their countries of origin, or in the next country they enter. We’ll help Mexico patrol its southern border and care for migrants.
“We’re pausing asylum entry until we get this licked.
“America must be able to provide for all its residents, especially those seeking better lives for themselves and their families. Compromise shouldn’t be a dirty word. Compromise is how we built this country. Compromise is how we advance in a democracy. It’s only when we fear those with whom we disagree that we risk bad ends.
“Together, we can get this done. Thank you, and God bless America.”