Democrats are threatening to shut down the federal government, refusing to pass a spending bill unless it contains a path to legal status for the so-called “Dreamers” protected under President Obama’s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program.
Are the Democrats really concerned with the status of these young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children, or with reforming our broken immigration system? No. They are trying to score political points.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., recently went to a closed-door meeting at the White House to push his immigration plan. He was so genuinely intent on getting a bipartisan deal done to save the Dreamers that he torpedoed the entire undertaking by running to the microphones and claiming President Trump’s made a “racist” comment about “s---hole” countries.
Does that make any sense? No, it does not.
Durbin knew full well when he made his accusation that President Trump used such vulgar language that a media firestorm would be unleashed. He was betting that if the talks broke down, and Congress failed to resolve the Dreamer issue, President Trump would be blamed.
That, to Durbin and his Democratic colleagues – Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California – is much, much more important than actually lifting the cloud of uncertainty that hovers over the heads of the so-called Dreamers.
Here is the reality: Democrats are scared to death that a Republican Congress and a Republican president may actually effect some reform of our flawed immigration system. They have pursued the Hispanic community vigorously for many years, seeking to solidify their support within the country’s fastest growing demographic.
Part of the Democratic strategy has been to demonize the GOP as racist and anti-immigrant. Trump’s candidacy and his careless comments about Mexicans greased the skids.
In their eagerness to curry favor with Hispanics, Democrats have increasingly abandoned their earlier professed support for secure borders. Though they continue to pay lip service to protecting against illegal immigration, many have opposed the use of E-verify and other approaches that might reduce the allure of entering the U.S. without authorization.
The Democrats have also encouraged the spread of sanctuary cities, where local governments limit their cooperation with federal officials on the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws. And they just hate Trump’s proposed wall along our southern border.
Now many Democrats are insisting they will not vote for a spending bill needed to keep government operating beyond Friday night unless it includes a lopsided DACA fix proposed by Senators Durbin and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., which allows Dreamers a path to legal status but skimps on border enforcement.
Though nearly everyone supports protecting Dreamers against deportation, Republicans and the White House want to couple that with enhanced border security, to make sure that what some are calling “amnesty” does not result in great numbers of new people flooding in without permission.
Democrats are taking a risk. Most Americans are compassionate and welcoming to immigrants, recognizing the invaluable contributions of those who have come to the U.S. from other nations legally.
But, at the same time, most Americans favor border enforcement. Hillary Clinton found that out the hard way, when WikiLeaks exposed her making this comment in 2013: "My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, sometime in the future.…”
Those remarks gave candidate Trump the ammunition he needed to paint his opponent as weak on protecting our borders; it didn’t help that the lines came from a paid speech Clinton made to a Brazilian bank.
Polling has shown that 65 percent of Americans favor coupling legal status for the Dreamers with tougher immigration enforcement. Some 79 percent of those surveyed think employers should have to verify the legal status of their workers, for instance. Democrats balking at such a compromise are on the wrong side of this issue.
Many in the liberal media argue that the GOP will be blamed for any spending impasse that forces a government shutdown, since Republicans have a majority in both houses of Congress and occupy the White House. But Americans understand that passing a budget requires 60 votes in the Senate, which Republicans do not have. Republicans will need at least 10 Democratic votes.
Democrats are in a pickle. They can anger the nation by blocking a proposed spending resolution that lacks a DACA fix but that would fund our military and provide a six-year extension of the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program. Or they can infuriate Hispanics by keeping the federal lights on and working to resolve the Dreamer problem as part of a broader immigration package.
Latinos do not look to Republicans to fix this problem; they expect Democrats to do so. It isn’t the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., that has attracted a protest demonstration by immigration activists – it is Chuck Schumer’s.
Everyone wants changes to our immigration system, including the White House. And nearly everyone wants to protect the Dreamers. There’s lots of room to negotiate, and President Trump has signaled support for a compromise.
But a compromise – a win – on immigration would be another nightmare for Democrats. The optics of President Trump hosting a signing ceremony in the White House to celebrate passage of an immigration bill, which has eluded the past several presidents, would be unimaginably valuable for Republicans as we approach the November elections.
A new immigration law would be almost as valuable for Republicans as the millions of workers getting bonuses and wage hikes because of the GOP tax bill that President Trump signed into law.
A few more wins and Democrats are going to have a hard time persuading voters that President Trump and a Republican Congress aren’t indeed Making America Great Again.