Democrats: We're taking DACA off the table in immigration negotiations

Disappointing. The negotiations sounded promising until now!

I think this is half earnest and half a ploy for leverage by Democrats. It’s earnest in the sense that they believe, correctly, that the chances of getting together on a mutually agreeable resolution for DREAMers over the next three weeks are basically zero. So why tease them with false hope? Table the issue. Enough with this charade.


But like I said last night, I think there’s also a verrrrry slim chance that Trump would find a grand bargain appealing. He’s talked about having a “big heart” for DREAMers before, hasn’t he? He actually put full amnesty for DREAMers on the table a year ago, albeit as part of a package that would have required much more from Democrats than just wall money. Dems remember that and probably figure that by taking DREAM off the table up front they’re signaling to Trump that they’ll need a truly serious concession in order to put it back in play. No more “three-year reprieves” for DACA recipients like he offered two weeks ago. Permanent legal status and a path to citizenship. Otherwise, don’t bother.

“I’ve tried to work with this administration on issues involving immigration with a great level of frustration. And I do not want to take so many innocent people whose fate is hanging in the balance of this political debate and start off with the premise that we have a likelihood of solving their problem,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, a Democratic negotiator on the conference committee, which meets for the first time Wednesday.

“It’s not going to be a big immigration bill. Because it’s not within their portfolio,” he added.

“That’s a mistake,” said GOP conferee Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee [of taking DACA off the table]. “They’re leaving a courageous opportunity put forth by the president, important to many key parts of their constituency, outside the scope of possibility.”


Maaaaybe … there’s another reason why Democrats don’t want DACA in the mix, though? I’m remembering this tidbit from that internal poll Trump’s campaign conducted in 10 swing districts.

It’s not just internal polls. A CBS poll published a week ago found support for compromise to end the shutdown going both ways. When asked if Trump should surrender and give up on the wall, 66 percent said yes. When asked if Democrats should surrender and fund the wall, a majority of 52 percent said yes to that too. The one way in which Trump really did get the better of Democrats during the standoff was when he announced his “BRIDGE Act for wall” proposal, as that was the only public attempt by either side to find a mutually agreeable way forward. If he tries that again in the coming negotiations with some similarly limited reprieve for DREAMers, it might make an impression on some voters that Democrats, not Trump, really are the more unreasonable party here. He’s trying to make a deal, they’re not, and he’s trying to do it to benefit a sympathetic class of people in DREAMers.

So Durbin’s moving to short-circuit it. Don’t even bother making us an offer on DREAM this time, he’s saying, knowing that if Trump does it’ll once again force Democrats to explain why they’re unwilling to meet him anywhere in the middle on an issue which most of the country wants to see addressed.


Luckily for Durbin, Trump himself seemed to short-circuit it a few days ago. Or at least the “grand bargain” version of it:

President Donald Trump said Sunday that the odds congressional negotiators will craft a deal to end his border wall standoff with Congress are “less than 50-50.”…

He also said he’d be wary of any proposed deal that exchanged funds for a wall for broad immigration reform. And when asked if he would agree to citizenship for immigrants who were illegally brought into the U.S. as children, he again replied, “I doubt it.”

Another reason why Democrats might hold off on a DREAM compromise is to use it as a club against House Republicans. Politico notes that Steny Hoyer’s already preparing a clean bill on DREAM and extending Temporary Protected Status for others. If those were to come to the floor packaged with wall money, Republicans could vote yes and claim that they did so only for the border-security component. If DREAM comes to the floor on its own, purple-district Republicans (are there any of those left?) suddenly have a tough call to make.

None of this matters really, though. We worked out the logistics of the current stalemate last night: The only way Democrats would fund the wall is if Trump goes big on DREAM, but if he goes big on DREAM his fans within the nationalist wing of the Trump coalition will melt down. They’d rather have no wall than have the wall at that price. So there’s no deal. Either declare an emergency or let’s let this matter drop.


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