Are people really taking Bernie Sanders to task about what he told Trevor Noah last week during The Daily Show’s Between the Scenes digital segment?
As Sanders stated (bold and italics are our own emphasis):
“Nobody, I mean not many people believe in open borders. If you simply opened the borders, you’d have people from Vietnam and China and Mexico and Latin America coming in. And no one thinks that is a plausible approach. On the other hand, I think the strength of this nation is the diversity and the new ideas from immigrants from all walks of life have given this country. So you need a rational, non-racist immigration policy which welcomes people in from all over the world to improve our economy, but clearly you cannot have open borders.”
The Sanders comments are here:
Ironically enough, Sanders’ stance against “a rational, non-racist immigration policy” gets a bit lost when he also thinks that it’s a bad idea to “have people from Vietnam and China and Mexico and Latin America coming in.”
On April 8, POLITICO also reported this quote from Sanders: “What we need is comprehensive immigration reform. If you open the borders, my God, there’s a lot of poverty in this world, and you’re going to have people from all over the world. And I don’t think that’s something that we can do at this point. Can’t do it. So that is not my position.”
Open borders defenses aside, the bigger point for us is not Sanders’ views on open borders, its’ more as to how he views immigrants from places like Mexico, Vietnam, China and Latin America. Not as overt as Trump, but still perpetuating a quasi neo-nativist view that immigrants from “those countries” just don’t make the cut. Sure, Sanders can hide behind his believe that he is for comprehensive immigration reform, but anyone who follows politics knows that such a stance is just window dressing. Once again, immigrants are the poorer ones, the “others,” the one that would create havoc on this country. We must protect our country from this “plague.”
Such a “progressive” belief seems to become more and more common. As much as (mostly white) progressives say they are welcoming to immigrant communities, are they?
Just ask Cher, who tweeted these thoughts over the last few days about the possibility that a city like Los Angeles would be overrun with migrants being dropped off by the Trump administration.
Here’s the thing: why do we need to make this an either/or type of choice? Why can’t we frame the immigration debate with actual morality and compassion, instead of being afraid that you will be seen as too “weak” on this issue?
Maybe, the real answer is simple: maybe this is how most of the country actually feels about immigrants, and that is sad to see.
UPDATE, April 23: And it’s not just us who are raising the question.
As the following piece by Daniel Denvir in Jacobin says:
Bernie’s track record on immigration is strong. But he currently lacks a bold vision for immigrant justice that identifies an immigrant-dense working class as a protagonist for progressive social and economic transformation today, matching the clear and compelling framing he uses to talk about issues like economic inequality. Luckily, Sanders’s track record suggests he can avoid the trap the Right wants to set for him on immigration and advance a vision of immigrant rights that expands and strengthens his call for a society for the many, not the few.
Maybe Bernie will get it, but right now, the way he is framing the immigration debate is missing the mark.
The people coming from Mexico and south are from this continent. This whole continent is stolen Indigenous lands. They are Indigenous, they belong here. Cher comments, who is suppose to be native, never proven, is of the typical European colonized thought processes.
America isn’t successful because of those “native” people… if in doubt, try Mexico, Guatemala or El Salvador. You and I would hate to live there.
His point was that there would be too many people coming in with open borders, not that people from those countries are bad. The majority of our immigrants, 43% from the Americas and 39% from Asia, come from those countries. It did sound suspect, but his record of fighting for equality is strong.
What a disgrace of an article. I hope you reviewed the comments on Facebook replying to the posting of this article, because they should give you a good indication of just how disgusting and shameless of a hit piece this was to your audience. You took a single quote that was CLEARLY NOT A COMPLETE THOUGHT and COMPLETELY incompatible with everything the Senator has said about immigrants previously, then throw in some random tweets from a deranged celebrity like Cher in there and call that an article? For Latino “Rebels”? What a joke. You are working so hard to try to undermine one of the only two progressives in the Democratic field because your chattering class overlords don’t like Bernie, it’s pathetic.
Usually, when people say “hit piece,” it’s because they have nothing else to say. These are valid questions to ask and we still stand by the fact the Sanders’ immigration framing is still problematic. The truth hurts, especially when it comes to political messaging. Sanders should rethink his actual immigration framing, and we are not the only ones who are saying this. Thanks for your comment and yes, we don’t agree with you or your take on it. But if you want to label it as a “hit piece,” it means we are doing our job in holding ALL politicians accountable. Peace.
I agree with Angie and Miguel. “Open Borders” is what we constantly hear from Trump and his MAGAts. By tearing Bernie and other candidates down, you pendejos are giftwrapping the 2020 election for Trump.
Leroy and Miguel. If you blame people of color for racism and there being a racist in office, then you dont understand what racism is and where it comes from. If both of you sound like you about to punch a hole in the wall it’s because your not sure how to express something your not that informed about. Most all activists and journalists worth a damn can peg a politician as soon as it opens its mouth. Phrases like “comprehensive immigration reform” have an entire corporate function and background your not even aware of. Both of yous are doing the Democrats work for free, which is attacking brown rebels and revolutionaries for questioning and and speaking out against a candidate campaigning for the nomination of a historically racist, capitalist party responsible for NAFTA and the most deportations in American history.
It’s very surprising and deeply disappointing to see how many supposedly “progressive” voters and/or activists are adopting a stunningly similar sycophantic approach to our public servants that many Republican politicians in Congress take to Trump.
I’m sure we’ve all grown to expect the sycophancy coming from the conservatives; to be conservative after all is to be uncomfortable with a system that does not demand subservience and distinct hierarchies of value. But I never expected so-called progressive activists to do the same, particularly for an old white guy who at best shares the same views on diversity as a Rockefeller Republican, which used to correctly not be enough for us to want to lead our Party.
To Miguel and Leroy: The comments Sanders made to Trevor Noah were not one-off. Sanders has a very problematic, largely center-right voting record when it comes to immigration. The most “progressive” thing you’d be able to say about his immigration record is that he prizes native workers over foreign workers, which isn’t my definition of progressive. But I guess to each their own on that one, right?
Actually, no. You know what? That is not progressive. I urge you to name me a dictator or right-wing authoritarian who did not champion native-born workers over foreign workers. One of the Jacobin articles linked to above suggests that the frame Bernie uses – worker vs. worker instead of greedy corporations vs. workers – is not a leftist or progressive frame at all, and it would be very simple and easy for Bernie to change his framing on this.
The fact that he has clearly felt that he has not needed to do this should beg the question: Are there people the progressives in the Democratic Party want to represent that Bernie doesn’t feel like he needs to?
Ask yourself that question as you watch Bernie Sanders gleefully snickering when Lou Dobbs vomits up the most absurdly vile and obscene lies about immigrant workers back in a 2007 interview. Does smirking and chuckling in the face of grotesque slander qualify as “solidarity” to you? Because it doesn’t to me.
Ask yourself what Bernie must have thought of “solidarity” when he voted to protect anti-immigrant border militia from surveillance requests of foreign governments, or when he voted for the indefinite detention of undocumented immigrants if convicted of a crime, part of a bill strenuously opposed at the time by the ACLU and the National Council of La Raza.
Ask yourself why, particularly after very criticisms year after year, Bernie has not changed how he talks about immigrants, and has not bothered to correct the fascist narrative of native worker vs. foreign worker, particularly when doing so would be so easy (i.e., instead of worker vs. worker, true progressive talk about corporations vs. worker, etc.).
Asking myself the very same question leads me to ask that perhaps Sanders mistakenly believes that he cannot afford to lose the support of those that this xenophobic message appeals to.
According to the consensus of political and social science research, upwards of 12% of Sanders’ primary voters in 2016 thought that Trump represented their views more closely than Clinton did, and that’s how we lost last time. Ask yourself: given that we as a country tend to be too complacent to vote out incumbents, can we really risk nominating someone whose views voters can’t distinguish from Trump’s?
Finally, ask yourself if we really can afford to elect someone as President a man who uses the same fascist talking-points of right-wing populists who champion the destruction of the EU based on the same ugly lies that European countries should close its borders in order to be successful as societies. What kind of message would we send to the supporters of one of our greatest transatlantic allies if we elect a man who agrees with them that successful societies ought to be closed and “protected” from poorer immigrants?
Bernie has time to improve on this messaging. He has time to fix this and be better. But he will miss his chance if we start falling for the idea that sycophancy can replace activism and advocacy.
[…] in the streets. Sanders has himself benefited from being pushed by a genuinely grassroots movement, tacking left on immigration over the years — far preferable to the left taking its cues from the senator’s regrettable […]