McCain: We can't end DACA now!

I realize he’s in “DGAF” mode now, which helps explain his vote blowing up the GOP health-care bill in July. But this is poor strategy on Maverick’s part if he wants a DREAM bill to pass.

“President Trump’s decision to eliminate DACA is the wrong approach to immigration policy at a time when both sides of the aisle need to come together to reform our broken immigration system and secure the border.

“I strongly believe that children who were illegally brought into this country through no fault of their own should not be forced to return to a country they do not know. The 800,000 innocent young people granted deferred action under DACA over the last several years are pursuing degrees, starting careers, and contributing to our communities in important ways. While I disagreed with President Obama’s unilateral action on this issue, I believe that rescinding DACA at this time is an unacceptable reversal of the promises and opportunities that have been conferred to these individuals.

“The federal government has a responsibility to defend and secure our borders, but we must do so in a way that upholds all that is decent and exceptional about our nation. I will be working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to devise and pass comprehensive immigration reform, which will include the DREAM Act.”

McCain doesn’t repel Republican voters the way Obama does but he’s in the same boat in terms of his ostentatious support for a DREAM amnesty being more of a liability for Trump among populists than an asset. *If* McConnell can squeeze some sort of security concessions out of Schumer as part of a bill to amnestize DREAMers (which he probably can’t, but whatever), POTUS is going to have to sell that as a win to skeptical grassroots right-wingers. The more their enemies come out loudly in favor of the DREAM bill — Obama, McCain, Flake, Pelosi, Schumer — the more they’ll rebel against Trump’s sales pitch. The best thing ol’ Mav could do if he wants to make it easy, or easier, for Trump to sign something that’s bound to disappoint populists is to keep quiet about it as much as he can. The only part of this statement that helps Trump is the bit at the end about comprehensive immigration reform. If McCain raises expectations for a mega-amnesty and then has to “settle” for a limited amnesty of DREAMers alone, Trump could try spinning that as a win for border hawks. Emphasis on “try.”

Lindsey Graham’s statement this morning is more politic:

“If President Trump chooses to cancel the DACA program and give Congress six months to find a legislative solution, I will be supportive of such a position.

“I have always believed DACA was a presidential overreach.

“However, I equally understand the plight of the Dream Act kids who — for all practical purposes — know no country other than America…

“I have introduced legislation to solve this problem along with Senator Durbin. I look forward to working with President Trump and my colleagues in Congress to find a fair solution to this difficult problem.”

Graham’s trying to square the circle here, knowing that populists will recoil from his support for a DREAM bill just as they would from McCain’s. He’s pro-DREAM — but he’s also pro-Trump. And by signaling support for Trump’s decision, he smartly leaves himself in a position to be a key liaison between Trump and Congress in brokering this bill. He’s staying on Trump’s good side whereas McCain, who blew up ObamaCare repeal, doesn’t care anymore. Unlike Maverick, Graham yet serve multiple terms in the Senate and could be in line for a cabinet position down the line as Trump’s first round of appointees eventually step down. Another key difference: Graham is a lawyer by trade while McCain is not. Graham is on record as believing that DACA is unconstitutional, which all but requires him to support its rescission, but I’m not sure McCain has ever made the same claim. He says in his statement above that he “disagreed” with Obama’s action but McCain’s always been a believer in strong executive power. He may not have felt as legally bound as Graham did to back Trump on this, even though normally they vote together on nearly everything.

Per Politico, “A number of senior House Republican sources [believe] there may be an immigration deal that would codify DACA in return for a down payment on Trump’s border wall with Mexico.” I assume Graham would go for that. Would McCain? Or would he view a standalone DREAM amnesty as a threat to his grand dream of a broader comprehensive reform bill? Once DREAMers are legalized, the Republican appetite for further legalization will be sated for a long time to come. McCain will have to decide if he’s willing to accept half a loaf, or a quarter of a loaf, or to reject it in hopes of getting a full loaf instead.

Here’s Graham making his feelings pretty plain.

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Jazz Shaw 7:31 PM on October 02, 2022