Today, Sen. Bernie Sanders, the independent socialist from Vermont, supports amnesty for 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States — and he wants to end raids on companies that may knowingly employ illegal workers.
But back in 2007, things were quite different.
Sanders went to the Senate floor to oppose immigration reform because he believed too many companies were using legal and illegal immigrants to keep wages flat.
“I happen to think Congress should be spending a lot more time discussing this issue and making it easy for us to create decent-paying jobs for American workers, instead of allowing corporate interests to drive down wages by importing more and more people into this country to do the work Americans should be doing,” Sanders said then. “We have all been educated that economics is about supply and demand. If you don’t get the workers you want, you raise wages and you raise benefits. You don’t simply open the door to bring in other workers at low wages.”
Bernie Sanders, meet Bernie Sanders.
It was a quote brought up by senior White House officials when they gave an off-camera briefing to reporters this Wednesday. Republicans had been hoping to forge a compromise on illegal immigration and border security with Democrats, but the White House complained that Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats, shifted the goal posts, hoping to kill an immigration deal.
Then, sure enough, the Senate rejected a bipartisan amnesty deal for dreamers on Thursday. The nickname dreamers derives from the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.
But it isn’t just immigration that inspired some flip-flopping by Sanders, who ran for president in 2016. Check this out …
Sanders and guns. The senator has always been hesitant to vote for gun control, as he lives in rural Vermont. But during the 2016 presidential campaign, Sanders got called out on guns — and what did he do? He morphed into a new and improved Bernie.
It started in 2003 and 2005, when Sanders voted with many Republicans on limiting the liability of gun manufacturers.
When Hillary Clinton called out Sanders in January 2016, he retreated and said he supported looking at legislation advanced by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), which would repeal parts of the 2005 law.
“I’m pleased that this legislation is being introduced,” said Sanders, only a week after a Clinton rebuke, according to PolitiFact. “As I have said for many months now, we need to look at the underlying law and tighten it up.”
Party affiliation. Sanders is a longtime leftist from Brooklyn, New York; he was educated in Chicago, and he’s long been a Democratic socialist. He was elected without official nominations from the Democratic Party in 1990, when he was first elected to the House. He was re-elected every year without Democratic help, until 2006, when he won his first Senate race.
Sanders caucused with the Democrats on choosing a House speaker or Senate leader. But that was it. He never officially became a Democrat.
But a funny thing happened to Sanders on his attempted way to the White House: He realized the nation is not like Vermont. For a real run at the White House, one needs to be nominated by either the Democrats or the Republicans.
Sanders ran as a Democrat — and almost beat Hillary Clinton. But he was vanquished in the primaries. Just before the 2016 Democratic convention, though, he said he would stay with the Democrats this time.
But he did not. In April 2017, he told MSNBC: “I am an independent.”
(photo credit, homepage images: Bernie Sanders, Colorized, CC BY-SA 2.0, by Michael Vadon / Bernie Sanders, Colorized, CC BY-SA 2.0, by Gage Skidmore ; photo credit, article images: Bernie Sanders, Colorized, CC BY-SA 2.0, by Scott P / Bernie Sanders, Colorized, CC BY 2.0, by Phil Roeder)