Friday, March 31

Democrats seek to reframe border debate: The Note

The TAKE with Rick Klein

It has the trappings of an intraparty rebellion: Warnings of a migrant surge that will overwhelm authorities, battleground-state Democrats saying the Biden administration doesn’t have a plan — and even an in-cycle senator from New Hampshire traveling to the Mexican border to call for an expansion of the Trump border wall.

But a range of immigration advocates and their allies in Congress are arguing that it doesn’t have to be this way for Democrats. Heading into the midterms, they see a chance for their party to go on offense in selling what the administration has done and what they still plan to do to help immigrants, while also supporting border security.

“Democrats should speak to the Democratic coalition — not to Republican voters,” Frank Sharry, executive director of the immigration reform group America’s Voice, told ABC News. “If Democrats panic, they lose. If they lean in with strength, they win.”

Sharry’s group has been working with advocates from the Immigration Hub and other progressive activists in recent weeks to brief operatives and lawmakers on polling and campaign research pointing to ways to neutralize GOP attacks on immigration.

Central to their argument is that Title 42 was a Trump-era anti-immigrant measure rather than a border security tool. President Joe Biden is right to wind it down next month, they argue, and to sell efforts to legalize DREAMers, protect refugees and promote legal immigration.

Sharry said activists have been frustrated that the White House hasn’t provided messaging cover to vulnerable Democrats — and with some Democrats whom he said have chosen to “cede the field” to right-wing framing around border issues. This week brought signs that may be changing with the unveiling of a broader Biden administration plan for a world where Title 42 is rescinded.

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The GOP barbs are inevitable, as the House Republican border trip Monday and the grilling of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Wednesday make clear. But the hope of some immigration activists is that Democrats start to respond in ways that don’t validate the attacks.

Late Wednesday, a federal judge stepped in as expected to block Biden from lifting Title 42 restrictions — keeping the issue alive as a potent issue for the foreseeable future.

The RUNDOWN with Alisa Wiersema

After months of seeing palatable redistricting changes unfold across the country, Democrats are now facing uncertainty regarding new maps in New York — a state where they hold an overwhelming political majority.

As reported by ABC News’ Aaron Katersky, on Wednesday the New York Court of Appeals — the state’s highest court — voided congressional and state Senate maps drawn by Democrats. The case now goes back to the trial court and the new maps will be drawn by a politically neutral master, according to the decision.

The court scolded Democrats for failing to adhere “to the will of the People of this State,” given that voters previously sought to stop political influence from impacting New York’s redistricting process through state constitutional amendments in 2014. The court also characterized the maps as being “drawn with impermissible partisan purpose,” thereby violating the state’s “constitutional provision prohibiting partisan gerrymandering.”

“We are confident that, in consultation with the Board of Elections, [the] Supreme Court can swiftly develop a schedule to facilitate an August primary election, allowing time for the adoption of new constitutional maps,” the 4-3 decision said, indicating that New York’s election schedule will likely be delayed.

The news comes on the heels of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signing his favored congressional map into law. The new map wipes out political gains made by Democrats by adding four Republican-leaning seats and eliminating three highly competitive preexisting seats. DeSantis’ map also split up Black voters by slashing the number of Black-majority districts from four to two.

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Taken together, the looming questions about how the new maps will ultimately translate into voter turnout put sharper focus on a tough campaign cycle for Democrats in the months ahead.

The TIP with Brittany Shepherd

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is taking his victory lap on the road. On Wednesday, the governor of the self-proclaimed freest state in the nation decamped to Nevada to campaign for Trump-endorsed GOP Senate candidate Adam Laxalt.

Laxalt, the former Nevada-based Trump campaign co-chair, has pushed the need to “tighten up” elections, a watered-down embrace of the former president’s baseless assertion of widespread election fraud in the 2020 election. DeSantis has championed the issue in Florida, too, just signing into law a bill that would create a sort of election fraud police force by establishing the Office of Election Crimes and Security to root out bad actors.

The Las Vegas “Rise Up” event is a sign of DeSantis’ growing influence, as his appearance is one of his first more high-profile political stumps on behalf of another candidate outside his home state.

“In times like these, there is no substitute for courage,” DeSantis said of Laxalt at the hotly anticipated campaign event.

And there’s a hope that what happens in Vegas breaks the old adage and makes waves in the GOP primary in mid-June, as Laxalt hopes to unseat Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto come November.

“By standing shoulder to shoulder with DeSantis, Laxalt is making clear he’s an extreme MAGA Republican who shares the same dangerous agenda, which Nevadans simply cannot afford,” the Democratic National Committee said in a statement.

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

22. That’s the number of U.S. House seats we expected Democrats to win in New York under their new congressional map, which is quite bullish for Democrats considering there are only 26 seats at stake in New York, Democrats currently control 19 of them and the overall midterm environment doesn’t look great for Democrats. But on Wednesday, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that the map was a partisan gerrymander. New York’s map, as FiveThirtyEight’s Nathaniel Rakich writes, was a big reason Democrats had done so well nationally in the 2021-22 redistricting cycle. But now, as we enter the lawsuit portion, it’s possible that Democrats’ big redistricting advantage will be erased.

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ABC News’ “Start Here” Podcast. Start Here begins Thursday morning with a timeline from ABC’s Patrick Reevell of Marine veteran Trevor Reed’s detention in Russia and release. Then, ABC News contributor Col. Stephen Ganyard breaks down the significance of Russia cutting off natural gas to two NATO countries. And, the Hollywood Reporter’s Kim Masters talks about conversations she’s had with Netflix employees amid the streaming giant’s massive subscriber losses.


  • Early voting begins Thursday in North Carolina’s primary elections. Polls open between 7:30 and 8 a.m. depending on location, and early voting runs through May 14 at 3 p.m.
  • President Joe Biden delivers remarks on support for Ukrainians fighting the Russian invasion at 10:45 a.m. and meets with small business owners at 2 p.m. At 5 p.m, he and first lady Jill Biden host their first official film screening at the White House, showing HBO’s “The Survivor” in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day.
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki holds a briefing at 3 p.m.
  • U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland testifies at a budget hearing held by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies at 9 a.m.
  • U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testifies at a budget hearing held by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies at 10 a.m.
  • U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas testifies at a budget hearing held by the House Judiciary Committee at 10 a.m.
  • U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies at a budget hearing held by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies at 2 p.m.
  • Download the ABC News app and select “The Note” as an item of interest to receive the day’s sharpest political analysis.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day’s top stories in politics. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

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