A core issue

EDITORIALS

BY ART CULLEN

President Trump has made it abundantly clear that immigration will be the flash point of his 2020 campaign. His threats to impose tariffs on all Mexican imports over immigration show how far Trump will go in keeping fear at the fore. He thinks the issue won him the election in 2016. So let it be an issue that defines the debate and the United States as a nation of freedom. It’s high time to have that discussion. We have been waiting for it since at least 2008.

Two Democratic candidates have an intimate understanding and offer comprehensive solutions that stand out: Julian Castro and Beto O’Rourke, which you should expect since they come from Texas. O’Rourke served in Congress from El Paso and, like Pope Francis, believes that building walls separates communities like El Paso and Juarez. When Trump issues calls to build that wall, O’Rourke is calling back to tear down the wall in El Paso to wide appeal. It’s difficult enough building a community without putting fear, ethnic division and barbed wire between good people trying to weave lives across a border.

Castro, the grandson of Mexican immigrants, offers the most detailed plan for a workable immigration system of any candidate, Democrat or Republican.

The moral center of Castro’s proposal is to decriminalize the poor. People come across the border to feed their families, and so seek refuge from violence and oppression. Mexican fathers who come into Texas to wrangle cattle can be sent to a federal prison for a year if they are caught twice entering the United States. Mothers and children fleeing gangs in Central America are kept in cages run by a private prison industry. We are creating a class of felons among the poor and disenfranchised. Castro wants to repeal the law that felonizes the poor. That is where any immigration proposal must start.

Castro put out the first immigration proposal of any campaign, in April. It addresses almost every aspect — from granting the undocumented a pathway to citizenship, to ending nation-based visa quotas and religious bans, to speeding up the green card process. O’Rourke’s plan echoes Castro’s. Each calls the Trump Administration’s policies cruel and inhumane. Each embraces the idea that naturalization of immigrants leads to economic growth and stable communities. They start with a recognition that people have moved across the continent from north to south for the millennia, and nowhere is that more evident than the Borderlands including Texas where each was reared.

And, each calls for massive investment and engagement in Latin and Central America to stop the suffering that drives waves of refugees to El Norte.

They’re pleading for basic human rights. Every person is “legal,” or innocent, until found otherwise in the United States of America. That’s what Julian Castro is saying. Nothing is more American than that. Let’s have that discussion on what it means to be American. And let’s start by listening first to Julian Castro and then to Beto O’Rourke. Trump does not understand the concept, and he will lose the argument among decent people who appreciate the essence of liberty.

Scholten in sweet spot

Bet on it: JD Scholten will run against Steve King for Congress, and this time the Democrat is poised to win. Scholten probably will announce in July. It sounds as if he will not run against Joni Ernst. King already is lining up support from county GOP central committees to win a June 2020 primary over two competitors. Despite his outrageous comments, King is viewed favorably by the activist base. He probably will be the nominee.

And he is scared. Scared that he lost his committee assignments over white supremacist remarks. He has decided to shape his re-election around it in a battle against House Republican leadership. “They think if they can keep the subject tamped down, that it eventually goes away. But each day that goes by, my patience gets thinner and thinner. And that means, then, that I have to turn this up,” King told Politico this week.

Turn up the crazy.

Scholten is an amiable former semi-pro pitcher who is not worried if King or one of his challengers wins the nomination. That’s because they’re all tied at the hip to Trump, who is wreaking havoc on the rural Fourth Congressional District with his trade wars. Scholten will run a populist campaign from his heavily-used Winnebago camper that seeks to rebuild rural communities around economic themes. Last time, Scholten came within three percentage points of King. Since then, King has turned up the crazy and has garnered even more national attention. King craves it, and gives Scholten all the ammo he needs to win a general election.

Last time, Scholten was on his own. The DC Democrats ignored him. This time, Scholten has the support of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He will have the whole nation behind him. Everyone wants to beat Steve King except for his own base. People who instinctively vote Republican will have to think twice when they consider King or Trump, who have done so much to hold back Northwest Iowa. We can return civility and common sense — core Iowa values — to Washington in the tradition of Berkley Bedell, Fred Grandy and Tom Latham. We can do it with JD Scholten. It will be the victory heard around the world.

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