Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice was the third speaker featured at NDN’s Immigration Reform and the Next Administration forum event.
Sharry began by providing a definition for attrition through enforcement: From the policy point of view, attrition through enforcement assumes we have good laws and bad people and what we have to do is enforce the good laws so that the bad people go away. The idea is to make life so miserable so people will leave. He referred to it as more accurately being a form of “non-violent ethnic cleansing”–making a bad problem worse.
The counter-point to attrition through enforcement is that immigration can be regulated effectively rather than enforcing bad laws ineffectively–an illegal system would essentially be replaced with a legal system.
Sharry cited the presidential election as being indicative of a great change. More and more Democrats are starting to understand that illegal immigration is not a wedge issue that hurts Democrats. In fact, there have been very few races where immigration has served as a deciding issue.
“The politics are shifting…if Democrats lean into the issue and define themselves they will win against the demagoguery of the Republicans because they are for practical solutions…Democrats have to stand up to the bullies.”
Sharry has recognized that this is not a policy debate–it’s a culture war. It’s not about legal status or the rule of law. This is no longer about fixing a broken immigration system, it’s about whether we as Americans are going to include people or exclude people.
Sharry cited the immigration debate as defining us as Americans.