You didn’t have to spend much time on social media this weekend to know that Kyrsten Sinema had hit her first big-league home run.
All you had to do was search “Kyrsten Sinema” on Twitter and then prepare to scroll and scroll and scroll.
A social platform that daily devours politicians from head to hoof was throwing garlands of unbounded gratitude to Arizona’s senior senator.
Republicans were lining up to confess they’d been wrong about Sinema and that pink tutu and now owed her a second look. Some said she was better than recent GOP offerings, the McCains, the Romneys and the Bushes.
It was the end of an another week in which Americans screamed at each other, and Sinema was standing out because she had quietly worked across the aisle to try to solve one of the pressing problems in the country.
Sinema crossed the aisle to craft a compromise
The U.S.-Mexico border has been besieged with some 390,000 migrants who came with families this year to seek succor in our homeland, according to Customs and Border Protection.
Those numbers have reached some of the highest levels since the United States started tracking such data, reported The Republic’s Rafael Carranza,
Sinema has a plan to help relieve the pressure on the border, and she worked with Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., and other Republicans and Democrats to iron out the details.
Together they proposed “Operation Safe Return,” an initiative that would quickly determine which migrants lack a valid legal claim for asylum so they could just as quickly be ferried back to their homelands.
The idea is raising the hackles of some immigration-rights advocates who fear such speed could result in migrants shipped back to dangerous settings.
Proposal gives relief to worthy asylum seekers
However, Sinema’s proposal has a countervailing impact that could provide rapid relief to migrants who have valid legal claims.
By sorting out the unworthy you also identify the worthy asylum seekers. And if you can do that, you can get them the hell out of overrun and under-supplied detention centers.
“Families who pass the credible-fear screening would have the chance to claim asylum and be released under alternative-to-detention programs,” reports Carranza.
Sinema’s politics matured into pragmatism
Kyrsten Sinema told us a long time ago she was going to Washington to do things. Her first big splash was a mischievous dive into fashion that assailed the starched shirts on Capitol Hill.
But she has since then quietly gone about her business, leaving Trumpian food fights to others while she works behind the scenes, even meeting with the White House to craft a better border solution.
I’ve watched Sinema for 20 years. I’ve seen her march with Mexican immigrants in the streets of Phoenix. While her politics have matured into a work-a-day pragmatism, I’ll never believe she lost her compassion for immigrant people. She’s been too long in the trenches with them.
However, some on the left shift uneasily at her border proposal and her willingness to work with the other side. Those Democrats should heed the warning of a border authority who served in the Obama administration.
Her plan points a way for Democrats for 2020
“Polls reflect that most Americans want to see two basic things when it comes to immigration,” explained Jeh Johnson, homeland security secretary from 2013 to 2017. “That we are fair and compassionate to those immigrants who have become honest and integrated members of our society (most notably the “dreamers”) and that we secure our borders.”
Earlier this month in a Washington Post op-ed, Johnson wrote, “We cannot, as some Democratic candidates for president now propose, publicly embrace a policy to not deport those who enter or remain in this country illegally unless they commit a crime.
“This is tantamount to a public declaration (repeated and amplified by smugglers in Central America) that our borders are effectively open to all.”
At the end of a week in which much of the national and world news media framed the Republican president as racist, a number of the leading liberal pundits were not bashing Trump. They were warning the 2020 Democrats for president they will lose the election to him if they keep driving into the swampland directly left of sanity.
“Spare me the revolution,” wrote liberal New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. “I was shocked that so many (candidates in the party whose nominee I was planning to support) were ready to decriminalize illegal entry into our country. I think people should have to ring the doorbell before they enter my house or my country.”
Show some common sense, wrote Friedman, or Trump is getting four more years.
Common sense in Washington wasn’t at the primary debates. It wasn’t leading the revolution.
It was ensconced in the Senate office building working out a complicated border problem and no doubt taking a moment to admire its stylish new pumps.