President Trump said Tuesday that he wants to find a way to allow an estimated 700,000 young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children by their parents to remain in the U.S., but also wants Congress to fund a wall along America’s southern border and other programs to reduce illegal immigration.
In addition, the president indicated he could support comprehensive immigration reform legislation after a new law is enacted dealing with the 700,000 young immigrants who are currently allowed to stay in America under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA is set to expire March 5 if no new legislation is passed by Congress and signed into law by the president.
However, in a surprise development Tuesday night, a U.S. District Court judge in San Francisco ordered the DACA program to continue until a final judgement is reached in a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration decision to begin phasing out the program in March. It’s unlikely this ruling will be upheld, given that the DACA program was implemented by the Obama administration without the approval of Congress.
President Trump’s comments, made at a meeting with lawmakers of both parties, show he is sincerely committed to showing compassion for the DACA immigrants and is willing to look at more sweeping immigration reform, but is determined to carry out his responsibility to enforce immigration laws and protect our national security. In addition to keeping out illegal immigrants, he has said a border wall could help reduce flow of illegal drugs into the U.S.
Besides calling for the wall since the early days of his presidential campaign, President Trump has called for ending chain migration (when immigrants are allowed to bring distant relatives into this country), eliminating the visa lottery, and giving immigration officers the resources they need to stop illegal immigration. The president and lawmakers agreed Tuesday that they would seek agreement on legislation to address all these issues.
The Trump administration has also said a deal on DACA could include e-verify, which would require employers to verify that their potential employees are actually authorized to work in the country.
While we don’t know all the details of the deal President Trump might be able to make with Congress, he’s clearly standing firm behind his campaign promises to crack down on the illegal flow of immigrants and drugs into our country to protect our national security. This is yet another example showing the president is keeping his campaign promises.
Democrats have criticized President Trump’s priorities – particularly a border wall – but said after Tuesday’s meeting that they were willing to look at other measures to increase border security. They have also been beating the drum of a government shutdown.
The Democrats face mounting pressures from extremists in their party who are already angry that they didn’t cause a shutdown last month over DACA. If Congress doesn’t pass a spending bill that the president signs by Jan. 19, the federal government will be forced to shut down non-essential services.
Given both parties’ stated positions, an impasse that leads to a shutdown could be inevitable. But what if the president were to make a deal on DACA that included his immigration priorities, while also making the Democrats an offer many of them would have a hard time refusing – infrastructure? In other words, a deal that includes DACA and all of the president’s immigration priorities tied to an infrastructure bill that’s based on a public-private partnership.
In some circles, public-private partnerships are controversial. However, projects have been built using them and this could be a double win for President Trump. This is a way for him to get the infrastructure bill he campaigned on, while delivering on his biggest campaign promise: building the wall.
Some Republicans will likely balk at the idea of an infrastructure deal. However it would be a trade-off they would be wise to consider. The return on investment in the midterm elections and again in 2020 for helping the president pass the single biggest reason he was elected would be huge, as President Trump likes to say.
Republicans will need to do something that’s historically difficult for them – not give away the farm. The Democrats will use the Jan. 19 threat of a government shutdown to play chicken and try to force Republicans to give them DACA – and back off on ending chain migration, funding the wall, and many of the president’s other immigration “must haves.”
The American people are watching. Telling them “sorry we’ll try again later” will not be an acceptable answer by Republicans. If the GOP capitulates on this, it’s a one-way ticket home in the next election cycle.
The Democrats won’t like that they’re being put in a position to give the president a win. However, the economy is thriving, President Trump’s approval numbers are rising, and people haven’t even begun to fully see the benefits of the tax cut on their personal bank accounts yet.
Constituents are going to ask Democratic lawmakers up for re-election: “So, what have you done for us?” If Democrats say they’ve spent all their time attacking the president, that won’t be an acceptable answer. The American people want solutions.
Given all the good news it will be very difficult for Democrats from blue-collar states that President Trump won – among them West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Indiana – to explain to their constituents why they passed up an infrastructure deal that helps with roads and bridges their states desperately need. Especially after voting against a tax cut that gives their constituents more take-home pay.
If the president is serious about building a wall – which it’s clear that he is, along with all of his other immigration priorities – this may be his ace in the hole. While some on both sides won’t like aspects of this for different reasons, getting 60 votes in the U.S. Senate for such a deal is very plausible. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Democrats would get to go back to their states with more than just gridlock to offer their constituents. Republicans would win because they’d be helping the president do what he was elected to do, and they may get to keep their seats this year as a result. And the president would deliver on yet another campaign promise to continue his winning streak for the American people.
Call it the art of the immigration deal.