Report: Trump tells tech titans he favors "comprehensive" immigration reform

C’mon, nobody believes this. Next they’ll be telling us Trump wants to preserve Obama’s executive amnesty for DREAMers.

Maybe he meant to say no way to comprehensive immigration reform but was discombobulated because, for once, he wasn’t even close to being the richest guy in the room.

Haberman’s right that this isn’t the first time Trump’s been accused of talking up “comprehensive” reform. In early February, just a few weeks after taking office, he met with a bipartisan group of senators. Joe Manchin reportedly asked him if he’d consider a Gang-of-Eight style comprehensive bill that would trade security improvements for legalization. Sure, I’ll take a look at it, Trump is said to have replied, which is no big deal. What was a big deal, sort of, was what he allegedly said when Manchin explained to him the sort of long-term path to citizenship (say, 10-13 years) that he had in mind: “That doesn’t sound like amnesty to me.” Hmmmm.

There’s another private meeting which Haberman’s forgetting at which Trump supposedly suggested he was open to an immigration deal. That one came at the very end of February, when he sat down for lunch with news anchors on the day of his address to a joint session of Congress.

Trump didn’t end up mentioning comprehensive reform in his speech. The White House tried to clean up what he’d said to the anchors the next day by claiming that it was some sort of grand psych-out of the “fake news media,” but that never made sense. Assuming Haberman, who’s famously well-sourced, is correct that he mentioned “comprehensive” reform to Cook, that makes three separate occasions on which he’s discussed it. Is the White House actually considering this?

The likeliest explanation that Trump was pandering to a private audience, telling them what he thought they wanted to hear, while possibly not fully understanding exactly what “comprehensive” reform means. All three meetings I just described involved Democrats or presumptive Democrats, whom Trump would naturally assume to be pro-amnesty. None of the meetings was recorded, giving him plausible deniability about what was said. As such, his instinct may have been to ingratiate himself to the people around him by blowing smoke about a big amnesty deal knowing there’d be no way to hold him accountable for what he said afterward. After all, whose word is a Trump fan going to trust, Trump’s or Jake Tapper’s? It may also be that Trump likes the concept of a “comprehensive” deal — it’ll be big, yuge, the comprehensivest! — without grasping exactly what that means in an immigration context beyond a vague idea of “compromise” despite Manchin’s attempt to explain it. I sure hope he hasn’t been suckered into believing that if the deal “only” legalizes illegals without granting them citizenship that that’s somehow a win for border hawks. Citizenship for newly legalized residents is a fait accompli in time. Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller presumably know that even if Trump doesn’t.

But hey, maybe he knows full well what he’s saying and really is considering a grand bargain with Democrats on immigration. A path to citizenship for DREAMers in exchange for beefy internal enforcement mechanisms might be a deal worth doing. I doubt Schumer would do it as he’d insist on a much broader amnesty, but there’s no harm dangling the possibility through “private” remarks. Just explain to me how it fits with the White House’s “don’t piss off the base!” strategy and it’s full speed ahead.