Matt Lewis hears rumblings. “DACA” is, of course, shorthand for the executive amnesty for young illegals ordered by Obama in 2012 that allows them to remain in the U.S. subject to certain basic conditions:
According to my sources, there are two potential options being discussed: 1) keep DACA in place for six months to a year and have Congress pass a fix (perhaps as part of a larger border security bill), or 2) repeal DACA but allow continuation for work permits (so DREAMers can earn a living while Congress hammers out the details), and assign them a low deportation priority until Congress can pass a fix. Finally, Congress—not a presidential executive order—must codify this carve-out into law…
[T]his could be [Trump’s] “Only Nixon can go to China” moment. In other words, because Trump plans to build a wall (why not time this move to coincide with the funding of that wall?), deport criminal aliens, punish sanctuary cities, etc., he may have the political leverage to keep some 740,000 young people from being deported (those who came here as minors before June 2007 and have avoided a felony or serious misdemeanor conviction). This could end up being a bipartisan compromise that allows Trump to give his base the things they really care about, while simultaneously making a common-sense compromise that could defang the left.
I haven’t seen that reported elsewhere but it makes perfect sense. Trump has already signaled that he’s open to an accommodation on DREAMers, telling Time magazine in his “Man of the Year” interview when asked about them that “We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud.” I don’t think I’ve ever seen a poll showing Republicans opposed to the idea of legalizing DREAMers; in fact, some polls show Republicans, including Trump voters, open to letting all illegals stay if they meet statutory requirements. He has political cover to make this deal. The only trick is to get something meaningful for his base in return, so that he’s not accused of selling them out in exchange for nothing.
“An obvious way to keep his promise to rescind Obama’s executive amnesties while solving the uncertainty over DREAMers,” I wrote in this post, “would be to pursue a legislative compromise in which legal status for them is traded for more security at the border.” Ten days ago news broke that Trump would ask Congress to fund construction of the new border wall, with Mexico to reimburse us for it some way, somehow in the future. If he’s worried about Democrats filibustering that funding, it’s a no-brainer to offer them legalization for DREAMers in return for wall funding. In one fell swoop, he’d have secured the key plank in his immigration plan for his base while proving to his critics in the press that he doesn’t intend to deport all illegals. Like Lewis says, the left would like to be able to use immigration as a wedge issue with Latino voters. If amnesty for DREAMers is on the table, that gets harder for them. Given how it solves multiple problems for the new White House, it’d be more surprising if a DREAMers-for-the-wall deal isn’t offered this year than if it is.
The question is which of the two plans described by Lewis is preferred by Trump. I assume he favors the second one, in which DACA is rescinded by executive order but work permits are continued, for the simple reason that it would allow him to say (sort of) truthfully that he vowed to end Obama’s executive amnesties and he kept his promise. (Ironically, he made that vow in the same interview in which he first called for mass deportation. “Chuck, we either have a country, or we don’t have a country.”) Remember, this is a guy so invested in his man-of-action image that he’s demanding simultaneous repeal and replace for ObamaCare even though the GOP doesn’t have a replacement plan yet. If he won’t wait for them on that, he’s surely not going to keep DACA in place for a year while Ryan and McConnell sound out Schumer on a deal.
Exit question via the LA Times: While we’re cutting a big check to fund the wall, can we cut a smaller check to fund filling in the tunnels underneath that wall? Not surprisingly, Mexico’s not doing a very good job of it on their end.