Why Trump could still pull a fast one on 'Chuck' and 'Nancy' on immigration

New York's Senior Senator Chuck Schumer may not be as clever as he thinks he is – admittedly, a high bar. As they meet with President Trump, the Senate Minority Leader along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are playing hardball, balking at supporting a temporary spending bill unless it includes protections for so-called Dreamers. Trump could turn that skirmish on its head, and produce an unimaginable win for the GOP.

Democrats want the spending bill, which will keep the government funded until the spring by employing various gimmicks, to include a path to citizenship for the young people who were included in Obama’s now-terminated DACA program.

President Trump has suggested he’s willing to solve the Dreamer issue once and for all, in exchange for beefed-up border security and an end to chain migration.

At a dinner in September with “Chuck” and “Nancy”, Trump voiced his support for the DACA group, calling them “good, educated and accomplished young people" who "have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own."

If a compromise is reached, it will be Trump signing the bill and taking credit for granting legal status to hundreds of thousands of people in the country illegally.

Just as only Richard Nixon could venture to China, it may well be that Trump, who campaigned on tougher immigration enforcement, is the lone person who can get this deal done.

If he plays his hand well, Trump could lead the country towards a smarter approach to immigration and guide Republicans towards better relations with Hispanic voters.

Reaching an agreement, especially if it were to resolve other dysfunctional aspects of our immigration system, like birthright citizenship or chain migration, could significantly change relations between Republicans and the fastest-growing voter group in the country.

Imagine what a coup that would be.

Very few want to deport people who were brought into the country by their parents and who have grown up in the U.S., a group known as Dreamers. Their cause is widely popular; a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that 86 percent of the country thinks they should be allowed them to stay in the U.S. The case for granting them permanent status has been made for decades; few would argue that young people should be sent “home” to a country they’ve never known.

But, the same poll shows that 79 percent of Americans wants to “verify that hires are in the country legally.” That is, they would sign on for required use of E-verify, or some other program that guarantees that workers are documented.

Most Americans still distinguish between legal and illegal immigration. They, like President Trump, embrace the former, but not the latter. In their hostility to the White House, immigration advocates and their liberal allies have repudiated what used to be the mainstream consensus that as we welcome newcomers, we also need strong borders and effective control over who enters the country.

Currying favor with the increasing number of Latino voters, Democrats have adopted that extreme view, and blasted President Trump as anti-immigrant and anti-Hispanic. Ironically, President Obama is seen as a strong advocate for immigrants, even as his administration ramped up deportations and failed to conclude any lasting legislative fix for people in the country illegally. The liberal media has portrayed the Trump White House as adopting draconian measures to ferret out undocumented persons, and pointed to ICE raids early this year removing people who in some cases have been here for years. Less widely reported is that those enforcement measures were planned under the final months of the Obama administration.

The dishonesty goes further. Liberal organs like the New York Times have characterized deportation policy under Trump as radically changed; they have suggested that while Obama only tossed hardened criminals out of the country, Trump’s team has targeted hard-working, law-abiding men and women. It is not true.

The Times itself reported in 2014 that “Since President Obama took office, two-thirds of the nearly two million deportation cases involve people who had committed minor infractions, including traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all. Twenty percent — or about 394,000 — of the cases involved people convicted of serious crimes, including drug-related offenses, the records show.”

The liberal media bashed Trump when he terminated the DACA program in September, though the White House argued that the president’s move allowed Congress six months to sort out its legal status. The alternative, as numerous states readied to sue over the large-scale “amnesty”, was an immediate shutdown of the program by a federal court. Outrage from Democrats on the Hill underscored what most Americans already believe: asking Congress to fix the nation’s problems is naive. Trump’s tweet that day resonated: “Congress, get ready to do your job - DACA."

If he plays his hand well, Trump could lead the country towards a smarter approach to immigration and guide Republicans towards better relations with Hispanic voters. Many have noted that the GOP has much to offer Latinos, many of whom are socially conservative, concerned with providing a good education for their children and eager to find jobs. It is immigration policy that has put Republicans and Hispanics at odds; that rift need not be permanent.

Democrats are already on thin ice on this issue. In September, Nancy Pelosi was heckled by immigration advocates who called her a “liar” over unfulfilled promises to push for DACA protections. They expect action; if no deal is reached, it will not be Trump who is blamed.