Deal? Bipartisan Senate group has agreed on DREAMers, says, er, Jeff Flake; Update: $2.8 billion for "fence barrier"

There are no details in this story, just Flake’s assertion that a bargain has been struck.

But do we need details? If Jeff “Gang of Eight” Flake is excited about an amnesty deal you know it must be good!

Trump will need to sign off, of course, but as Ann Coulter would tell you, he’s surprisingly agreeable to bad ideas on immigration. If Flake is right that his group’s bill is the only game in town, Trump might be inclined to sign it purely to notch a “win.” In fact, he all but admitted that at Tuesday’s White House meeting.

A bipartisan group of senators has struck a deal on legislation that would shield hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., told reporters Thursday.

“We’ve got this bipartisan group, we’re at a deal,” the senator said, according to NBC News. “So we’ll be talking to the White House about that and I hope we can move forward with it, it’s the only game in town. There’s no other bill.”

Shortly after Flake’s comments, a spokesman for Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said talks were still ongoing, according to Reuters. Durbin is a member of the bipartisan group and an early proponent of legislation to shield those immigrants.

Flake says there’s a deal, Durbin — another Gang of Eighter — says there isn’t. Let’s go to Lindsey Graham, yet another GO8 member, for the tiebreaker:

As so often is the case, the last best hope of border hawks to avert an immigration sellout by Republicans may be the amnesty fanatics of the left, who are horrified that Democratic leaders would even discuss semi-serious restrictions in the context of a DREAM bill. They want a clean amnesty for DREAMers; they *might* agree to some token border security to sweeten the deal, assuming it doesn’t do much to actually secure the border.

But meaningful limitations on immigration? That’s a bridge too far.

During a tense meeting Tuesday night, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and other top Democrats were dressed down by rank-and-file Democrats over the talks…

Democrats in the opposition camp argue that wide-scale changes to family-based sponsorship laws and the visa lottery should be discussed only as part of a broader immigration deal…

To address conservative concerns about “chain migration,” the senators are proposing that undocumented parents who brought a child to the United States illegally would not be able to access a pathway to citizenship based on being sponsored by their children, said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). But the parents of Dreamers would be able to obtain a three-year provisional legal status that could be renewed, Flake said.

That’s one sticking point. Will Democrats agree to de facto permanent legal status for DREAMers’ family members if citizenship (and therefore voting rights) is off the table? They’d be stupid not to, since Dems will surely change the law to create a path to citizenship for those family members once they’re back in the White House and in control of Congress. Another, more interesting sticking point according to Politico is a rift between the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus over the diversity visa lottery. The CBC likes the lottery because it benefits people from places with relatively low rates of immigration — like Africa and the Caribbean. The CHC would like to save the lottery but may be willing to let GOPers quash it in return for Trump reinstating Temporary Protected Status for various nations — particularly Latino nations like El Salvador and Nicaragua. This identity-politics clusterfark will be the best identity-politics clusterfark, believe me.

Flake’s would-be replacement in the Senate, Joe Arpaio, told NPR yesterday that he wants DREAMers deported (although he’s willing to let them come back in eventually), putting him to the right on immigration of even Donald J. Trump. That’ll play great in the primary and will stink to high heaven in the general election: A new poll from Quinnipiac shows 86 percent of Americans support letting illegals who came to the U.S. as children stay, with 79 percent willing to let them become citizens and another seven percent open to granting them permanent legal status without citizenship. Among Republicans the number is 76 percent (64 and 12 on citizenship, respectively). It’s tempting to chalk that up to a Trump effect, with POTUS’s warm words for DACA recipients steering GOPers towards a softer position on amnesty. But support for legalizing DREAMers has been strong in recent years, even before the election. Arpaio might win the primary because the most hardline populists will turn out to flex their muscles. He’s a sitting duck in the general, though.

Update: This is the deal? $2.8 billion for “fencing” and some other unspecified security in return for a DREAM amnesty plus chain migration in the form of legal status for family members that Democrats will eventually magically transform into citizenship?

Trump better have Hannity working overtime to try to sell this turd to the base if he signs off on it.

The Ann Coulters and Tucker Carlsons of the world will go berserk if Trump accepts it. Which, I think, he won’t: Stephen Miller seems to have his ear on immigration and there’s no way Miller will rubber-stamp it. It’s really a question of how badly POTUS wants a “deal” and how loyal he thinks his base will be if he signs a bad one.

Says Drew McCoy, “This is an amnesty deal so bad even Marco Rubio could have negotiated it.”

Update: An irony to ponder. *If* Trump signs this garbage amnesty deal, it’ll only be because populists convinced him that he’s politically bulletproof by slavishly ostracizing Steve Bannon on his say-so. Why should Trump strain to please his fans when they just proved they’ll do anything he wants them to in order to please him?