FILE - In this Aug. 11, 2017 file photo a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent escorts an immigrant suspected of crossing into the United States illegally along the Rio Grande near Granjeno, Texas. A U.S. official tells The Associated Press that Border Patrol arrests fell sharply in June 2018 to the lowest level since February, ending a streak of four straight monthly increases. The drop may reflect seasonal trends or it could signal that President Donald Trump's "zero-tolerance" policy to criminally prosecute every adult who enters the country illegally is having a deterrent effect. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the numbers are not yet intended for public release. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)


Increasingly it appears that the midterm election will be a referendum on the issue of immigration.

Both parties seem fine with this.

The controversy surrounding family separations at the Mexican border has subsided somewhat, with President Trump[1] signing an executive order as a temporary fix. Predictably, Congress[2] has done nothing to address the issue.

The family separation issue required the Trump administration to make a difficult choice: enforce the law as it is written or continue the much-criticized policy of “catch and release.”

There is no question that the Trump White House underestimated the backlash to its shift in enforcement policy, resulting in a rare backtrack from the president. It would be to everyone’s advantage if officials can now reunify these children with their families as quickly as possible.

But it is not that simple.

The government must confirm that the parent and the child are in fact related, which is not as easy as it may sound. If all the parent has are documents from their home country, it may take time to verify the documents. The logistical issues involved with unifying around 1,800 children with their parents are significant as well. Add to that the very real concern of where to house these families as the parent goes through the legal system.

More broadly, the Trump administration in the longer term is confident that it has a majority of the country behind them on several key immigration questions, with new polls suggesting the issue is rising to the top of voter concerns this fall....

Mr. Trump[3] and his advisers believe a majority of voters want more effective border security, with reinforced fencing for now and a border wall in urban areas as soon as funding can be secured. They also think a majority wants an end to catch-and-release, which makes a mockery of our justice system and the rule of law.They further believe a majority want E-Verify, so employers can know — and will be forced to determine — whether they are hiring illegal labor.They believe a majority of Americans want to move away from relative-based chain migration to a merit-based system, as the U.K., Canada and Australia now have. Nuclear family members would still be eligible to legally immigrate here, but not the far reaches of an extended family.Mr. Trump[4] and his aides believe there’s a majority in the country strongly opposed to sanctuary cities, which defy federal authority and needlessly endanger the public.They believe a majority opposes any effort to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which provides interior enforcement throughout the country, despite the calls from prominent Democrats in recent days to abolish the agency.That’s all clear and straightforward. The big question is, What do Democrats believe?The #AbolishICE movement is catching fire on the left, and Democratic elected officials are scrambling to align themselves with it or find some flexible formulation

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