Did you watch the Democratic debate on NBC last night? I did — and I’ll watch the second one tonight. One thing that jumped out at me was how unrestrainedly woke they all are — especially on the subject of immigration. I don’t think a single one of those candidates believe there should be any effective restraint at all on immigration. None.

The New York Times reports:

The debate, the first of two featuring 10 candidates each, underscored just how sharply Democrats have veered in a liberal direction since Mr. Trump’s election. On issues ranging from immigration and health care to gun control and foreign policy, they demonstrated that they were far more uneasy about being perceived as insufficiently progressive by primary voters than about inviting Republican attacks in the general election.

I’ll say. More:

Mr. Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio, dominated the segment devoted to immigration, promoting his proposal to decriminalize illegal immigration — a policy that Ms. Warren has adopted in recent days and that Republicans have gleefully highlighted to argue that Democrats support open borders.

Turning to Mr. O’Rourke, whose unsuccessful 2018 Senate bid and presidential candidacy have overshadowed him, Mr. Castro asked his fellow Texan why he would not support making illegal immigration a civil offense.

“I just think it’s a mistake, Beto,” said Mr. Castro.

Mr. O’Rourke noted that he had introduced legislation in Congress to decriminalize “those seeking asylum” and said that he had unveiled a comprehensive immigration overhaul.

But Mr. Castro interjected that it was not sufficient to relieve only those seeking asylum from criminal penalty, because many of those charged for crossing the border illegally are “undocumented immigrants.”

Mr. Booker made clear that he sided with Mr. Castro on the question, an illustration of the party’s shifting center of gravity on perhaps the dominant issue of the Trump era.

Julian Castro is not going to be the Democratic nominee, but Elizabeth Warren might, and Cory Booker, who did well last night, might too. And they are de facto for open borders. Vox writes:

Decriminalizing migration isn’t exactly the same as opening the borders. People coming to the US without papers could still be deported if they were caught and taken before an immigration judge. But it would make unauthorized immigration purely a civil offense, instead of a criminal one.

The distinction matters a lot. Criminal prosecution of illegal entry was what gave the Trump administration the power to separate thousands of families in 2018. It referred thousands of parents for criminal prosecution for illegal entry — advertised as a “zero-tolerance” approach — and thus separated them from their children to send them to criminal custody.

Illegal entry has been a crime for 90 years, but only recently has prosecution for it become common
If you’re an unauthorized immigrant in the US, you’re committing a civil violation: being present in the US without a valid immigration status. That’s breaking a law, but it’s not a crime, in the same way that violating the speed limit isn’t a crime. If you’re arrested, you can be deported — a huge change to an immigrant’s life, but not technically a criminal punishment.

But if you cross the US/Mexico border between ports of entry without papers, you are committing a federal misdemeanor: illegal entry. And you can be jailed and fined in addition to getting deported.

Let’s not kid ourselves: this means open borders.

This week, a terribly sad photograph of a father and young daughter, both drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande, was widely circulated. Beto O’Rourke (among others) blamed Donald Trump for their deaths. That’s a disgusting slander, though O’Rourke was by no means the only one doing it. According to the Washington Post, the man and his wife and daughter did not want to wait in line at the US-Mexico border, and decided to take their chances with the river. The Associated Press reports the same thing.

Many liberals are blaming the United States for these tragic deaths, because these economic migrants are not allowed to cross the border at will. This is crazy! Sohrab Ahmari writes in the NYPost:

To slow down the surge, President Trump limited the number of people who could apply for amnesty each day. Óscar Ramírez got frustrated waiting, his wife told reporters, which is why he tried to cross the river. Because of our broken asylum laws, putting one foot on American soil meant he would be allowed to stay.

Democrats argue that trying to meter the traffic at the border is heartless, that Trump should just let everyone in.

That happens with plenty of migrants. Such families are processed at one of our overwhelmed holding facilities. But Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls these “concentration camps,” and Democrats have been fighting among themselves about giving money to Trump to improve their conditions.

So no holding facility (say the Democrats). The migrants are waved in, given a court date for their asylum plea and sent . . . where?

Perhaps they show up for their hearing. Ramírez’s mother told El Diario de Hoy that he came to the US in search of more money. Understandable, except we don’t grant asylum for economic reasons. When migrants are rejected in court and deported, Democrats argue that the government is heartless. If they skip the hearing and live here illegally for years, perhaps decades, Dems believe ICE shouldn’t be able to find or prosecute them.

In short, there are no restrictions that are reasonable to the Democratic presidential front-runners. And to whether the US can absorb millions of mostly economic migrants into our economy and welfare systems, the objections are waved away.

It is true that Donald Trump has not established control over the US-Mexico border. It is true that he has done a poor job managing this crisis as a political matter. It is true that Trump’s hands are tied — there has to be a legislative fix.

But the most important truth is this: Democrats don’t want it. They want open borders. This could not be clearer. We elect a Democratic president in 2020, our porous border dissolves.

Today the US Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, said the Census Bureau can’t ask a question about citizenship status in the 2020 Census because there is evidence that Trump administration officials misled the public about why it wanted to insert that question into the Census. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the liberals in this ruling. I don’t understand this. I agree with Justice Alito:

“To put the point bluntly,” he wrote, “the federal judiciary has no authority to stick its nose into the question whether it is good policy to include a citizenship question on the census or whether the reasons given by Secretary Ross for that decision were his only reasons or his real reasons.”

How on earth can it be illegal for a government to try to find out whether or not people living within the nation’s boundaries are citizens? This is a politically consequential ruling, of course, because political power is apportioned on the basis of Census findings. California, for example, stands to gain more representatives in Congress because any non-citizen illegal aliens counted by the Census get folded into the overall count. In this way, states have an incentive to welcome illegal immigrants, because it boosts the states’ power in Washington.

David French, who is a lawyer, points out that the Trump administration’s politically maladroit handling of the situation led to this decision. That’s literally true, according to the Chief Justice’s opinion. This is another example of how the administration’s incompetence hurts its legitimate goals. That said, we still have a situation in which our government is not permitted to ask people living here if they are citizens or not.

I wish we had a more competent chief executive working on the border crisis. But look at the Democratic alternative, on stage last night and tonight in Miami.