Yesterday Hillary Clinton addressed a gathering of illegal immigrants in Nevada, and promised to outdo Barack Obama as an immigration activist. Byron York writes:
Changing the immigration system will be a top priority should she become president, Clinton said. “We can’t wait any longer. We can’t wait any longer for a path to full and equal citizenship.”
Clinton made clear she would go beyond any Republican, be it Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, or any other, in conferring benefits on currently illegal immigrants. “This is where I differ with everybody on the Republican side,” she said. “Make no mistakes — today not a single Republican candidate, announced or potential, is clearly and consistently supporting a path to citizenship. Not one. When they talk about legal status, that is code for second-class status.” …
“I want to do everything we can to defend the president’s executive orders,” Clinton said at another point. “Because I think they were certainly within his authority, constitutionally, legally, they were based on precedent that I certainly believe is adequate. And then still try to go further and deal with some of these other issues, like the re-unification of families that were here and that have been split up.” …
A number of words were missing from Clinton’s discussion of immigration. She did not say “border,” for example, or “visa” or “E-Verify” or “workplace.” The notion of enforcing the nation’s immigration laws as they currently exist was not on the table.
Of course not! If there is one thing Hillary can identify with, it is lawlessness.
Still, I find Mrs. Clinton’s posture intriguing. Barack Obama didn’t start issuing executive orders on immigration until he had been safely re-elected (until then, he repeatedly said, correctly, that he had no authority to rewrite the immigration laws). Nor is yesterday’s endorsement of immigration radicalism an instance of conviction politics. As Byron notes, she has been considerably more circumspect in the past.
Most likely, Hillary is protecting her left flank against real or imagined challenges. (Bernie Sanders? Seriously?) But in doing so, she is setting herself up for trouble in the general election. Can Hillary possibly be unaware of how unpopular open borders activism is with voters? Even Hispanic voters mostly disapprove. An extreme position on immigration may help her fundraising at the margin, but we are talking about the difference between $2.25 billion and $2.5 billion. She is, regardless of this issue, the candidate of millionaires.
No doubt the GOP campaigns are all filing away footage of yesterday’s event, in hopes of being able to use it against Hillary next year.