After all the promises made by the GOP leadership during the budget negotiations, one would assume that the delayed vote on a new DACA proposal would be coming up fairly soon. It’s far from a done deal, however, and the President is still tossing out a combination of sticks and carrots to the Democrats in an apparent effort to shape the discussion. The latest one was a suggestion that he might be willing to keep current legal immigration quotas in place in exchange for some other border security measures that conservatives are looking for. (LA Times)

As the Senate prepares to begin a free-wheeling debate over immigration next week, White House officials have begun floating a possible compromise idea — a pledge to maintain legal immigration at current levels, about 1.1 million people a year, for more than a decade.

President Trump has proposed a series of measures, including restrictions on family unification, which he calls “chain migration,” and an end to the visa lottery, that critics say ultimately could cut legal immigration to America by 40% or more.

But a White House official said Saturday that the Trump administration is working with allies in the Senate on a proposal that would create a path to citizenship for an estimated 1.8 million people who were brought to the country illegally as children, and that would clear the backlog of nearly 4 million sponsored relatives who currently are waiting for green cards.

While perhaps a bit on the obvious side, this sounds like Trump dropping back into the wheeling and dealing mode that he’s most comfortable with. He’s been threatening to cut overall immigration quotas for a while now and it’s a favorite topic for Chuck and Nancy to get up on their hind legs over. It would be a curious choice of issues to draw a hard line in the sand over because of the disproportionate number of people (including many Democrats) who actually would like to see total immigration numbers decrease, favor merit-based immigration and want to see the visa lottery ended.

Still, that’s not a bad deal for Trump in the long run. By threatening to cut legal immigration numbers, he creates a space for Democrats to give in on some other priorities in exchange for keeping the current quotas in place. That’s akin to threatening to punch someone in the face and then getting them to thank you when you decide not to do it. And if it results in border wall funding and the other changes under discussion being signed off on by the Democrats, he’ll probably chalk that one up as a win.

And is this really the question the GOP wants to go to the mat on? While trimming down total immigration numbers and approving applications for the best and the brightest is an admirable goal, stopping the influx of illegal aliens, deporting the ones already here and beefing up security are clearly the more urgent needs for conservatives watching this horse-trading exercise. Far more disturbing is Trump’s continued suggestion that the amnesty numbers could swell to 1.8 million or more and include a “pathway to citizenship” for them all, as suggested in this last round of talks. This, again, from the Los Angeles Times. (Emphasis added)

[A] White House official said Saturday that the Trump administration is working with allies in the Senate on a proposal that would create a path to citizenship for an estimated 1.8 million people who were brought to the country illegally as children, and that would clear the backlog of nearly 4 million sponsored relatives who currently are waiting for green cards.

Some trading was always going to be required to achieve conservative goals on this issue, but there’s also such a thing as priming the pump too hard. The Democrats claim they want to save the Dreamers from deportation. That can be achieved with Permanent Resident Alien status, not a pathway to citizenship and voting. And that four million number in terms of sponsored relatives is way too high. Restricting it to spouses, underage children and possibly parents could trim it down to a more manageable number.

In any event, those are all details which could be worked out in negotiations this week.The possibility of a deal is hanging in front of us, provided it includes the wall and the other priorities mentioned above. But if the President gets a bit too generous in his eagerness to get something signed, the GOP needs to either quietly curb his enthusiasm a bit or walk away.