President Donald Trump made fighting illegal immigration a centerpiece of his successful 2016 campaign, and two-plus years into this presidency, it remains a prominent issue.

The most important part of Trump’s plan to stem the flow of people coming into the U.S. illegally was building a wall on the nation’s southern border. Republicans shamefully failed to pass funding for the wall while they controlled Congress from 2017-18, and Trump came out on the losing end of a government shutdown standoff with Democrats over the same issue after the new split Congress took office in January.

Trump, however, isn’t about to give up. On Monday, the president released a proposed budget plan for fiscal 2020 that included $8.6 billion in wall funding.

Naturally, Democrats were quick to shoot down any ideas of that request being approved by Congress, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer saying in a joint statement Trump should have learned his lesson when he came out on the short end of the government shutdown.

The president had to know, however, that reaction was coming. In fact, I think he expected it. I don’t think the request for $8.6 billion was made with any realistic expectations of getting the money. I think the president understands he no longer has any chance of getting a wall in this term but can use the issue to help assure he gets another.

Conservatives and liberals look at the issue of illegal immigration very differently.

For liberals, the issue of illegal immigration is all about racism and power. They have worked hard to melt the subjects of immigration and illegal immigration into one. Their mindset, and the philosophy they push, is that if you’re against immigrants who are here illegally, you are against all immigrants, and therefore, you’re a racist. And by pandering to illegals and pushing for amnesty, they’re hoping to expand the number of Democratic voters.  

For conservatives, it’s an issue of law and order. Conservatives understand that we are a nation of immigrants, and we welcome immigrants into our country. However, we expect those who want to come here to do so legally. Yes, we understand it’s a long process, and we’re not against talking about reforms, but we believe frustration with the existing process does not excuse those who choose to get around it by breaking the law.

The problem for liberals, I believe, is that more Americans lean toward the conservative view of this issue. I believe, for most Americans, the idea of people coming here illegally violates their basic sense of right vs. wrong. I believe they’re uneasy about the thought of drugs, guns and other contraband flowing illegally over the border. I believe they’re uncomfortable with the effect the continued flow of illegals into the country is having on wages here, and I believe they’re horrified by stories of illegal immigrant crime.

I believe that’s why the issue was a big winner for Trump in 2016 and will be again in 2020.

Trump understands illegal immigration is an issue that resonates with voters. Because they look at this and every issue through the prism of identity politics, liberals just don’t get it. If they were really smart, Democrats would give Trump the funding he requested and try to change the conversation.

Instead, they’re allowing Trump to assure that the 2020 campaign will be fought on at least one battlefield where he’s going to have a tremendous advantage. In essence, they’re allowing the president to set a trap. In responding to Trump’s latest request for border funds with a flat “no,” I think Democrats are giving the president exactly what he wants.

Lew Gilliland is assistant editor of The Daily Home. Reach him at