White House pushing for a DREAM amnesty in January?

So that’s why Schumer and Pelosi caved on tying a DREAM bill to this week’s government funding package. Why risk a shutdown over the issue when the White House is prepared to play ball with them next month?

Presumably it’s also Democrats who are responsible for this leak. The only way to turn down the heat from open-borders activists for caving on the shutdown is to give them reason to believe this issue will be settled very soon thereafter.

And hey, now we know what populists will be angry about to start the new year.

At a Tuesday afternoon meeting with nearly a dozen senators deeply involved in immigration policy, White House chief of staff John Kelly pledged that the administration will soon present a list of border security and other policy changes it wants as part of a broader deal on so-called Dreamers, according to people who attended the meeting. The plan could come in a matter of days, senators said…

“Our belief is that if this matter is not resolved this week — and it’s not likely to be resolved — that come the omnibus and the caps, that we have another chance to finally come up with a bipartisan package of things to include” by mid-January, said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who also attended the meeting. “The closer we get [to the March deadline], the more nervous I get, not to mention the way these young people feel. I’m sorry that it’s taken this long.”…

At the Tuesday meeting, Kelly and other administration officials went into detail about how much of the southern border is currently fenced and how much more the White House would want in exchange for a DACA deal, according to people who attended.

Most of the Senate’s amnesty all-stars (Durbin, Graham, Flake, etc) were in attendance to hear Kelly’s list of demands. Politico’s piece is ominously thin on details, though, only noting that the White House wants a beefier border. That’s great, but immigration hawks have largely moved past border security as their main concern. It’s not just about illegal immigrants anymore (and to the extent that it is, E-Verify is more important than the wall in deterring illegals from coming). It’s about rolling back legal immigration too. And that means, per Tom Cotton, David Perdue, and Trump himself, ending chain migration:

At a minimum, an amnesty for DREAMers should come with a prohibition on chain migration for their own extended family members. Would Democrats go along with that? Is Trump even asking for it? If he isn’t, he will be soon. Breitbart is already gearing up for a squabble over DREAM, replete with warnings about the importance of ending chain migration. This is where immigration is a double-edged sword for Trump: Yeah, it helped rally populists to him last year in the primaries, but running as an ostentatious border hawk means expectations are higher for him now that he’s president. He can’t get away with mostly cosmetic improvements like some extra fencing at the border, as Bush might have, as part of an amnesty giveaway. He needs something significant. I don’t know if Pelosi and Schumer will give it to him, knowing that DREAM is popular with the public and with Trump already having showed fear by postponing the end of DACA for six months. Why should they make any concessions? If worse comes to worst, Trump tearing up DACA might help them a bit with Latino turnout next fall.

One other odd note about the coming deal is the timing. The whole point of not doing DREAM this week by adding it to the package to fund the government is that neither party wants to risk a backlash if the package falls through because of it and a shutdown ensues. Neither side is sure whom the public will blame. Sure, DREAM is popular, which bodes ill for reluctant Republicans, but shutdowns are highly unpopular and it’d be Democrats in this case who are holding government funding hostage as leverage for unrelated priorities. The obvious thing is to do is to put DREAM on pause, get the government funded, then take it up independently next month. There’s just one problem: The funding package that passes this week will only fund the government … until January 19. They’re going to have another shutdown standoff in January, right around the time they’re supposedly coming to terms on DREAM. How’s that going to work? Is the idea to ram through amnesty the week before they start negotiating on a new round of government funding, just to get it off the table?

If so, as a matter of pure politics, would the GOP be better off holding out and making Dems attach DREAM to the next funding bill? Republicans are stuck here because they want to pass amnesty (Trump handed this issue off to them in the hope that they would) but they don’t want their base pissed off at them for it. Solution: Let Democrats hold the government hostage over it and then cave. Ryan and McConnell might whimper, “We didn’t want to pass DREAM but Schumer and Pelosi left us no choice! We can’t let people lose their government services!” I’m not sure if that argument would make things better or worse for them, though. Populists don’t want to see Republicans pass a DREAM bill enthusiastically, but they also sure as hell don’t want to see them behave as though they’re intimidated by Democratic threats. The GOP spent the Obama years arguing that shutdowns were no big deal, that they only affect seven percent of the federal government or whatever the number is, etc. Now suddenly when it’s a matter of passing amnesty or stopping it, shutdowns are the worst thing in the world and must be avoided at all costs? A GOP cave on DREAM under fiscal duress might actually play worse for them among Trumpers than a straightforward cave would.

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David Strom 8:31 AM on October 02, 2022