Ah, so this is going to be part of the spin too. The eternal question in right-wing immigration debates: What constitutes “amnesty,” exactly? Is it *unilateral* legalization for illegals, with no security concessions from Democrats in return, or is it any deal in which illegals are legalized regardless of how much security border hawks receive in exchange? To most righties, I think, “amnesty” means nothing more or less than “a bad immigration deal.” If they get something they really want as part of it, like funding for the wall, then legalizing DREAMers isn’t really amnesty (or, more specifically, it’s amnesty but an amnesty worth doing). If they get rolled, though? Amnesty. Watch Trump below and tell me he isn’t using the word in exactly that sense. We’re looking at letting DREAMers stay, he says, but we’re not looking at “amnesty.” Uh, what?
He also says he’s not considering citizenship for DREAMers. Oh really? Someone should let his communications team know that:
WH spox: Trump 'will not be discussing amnesty' but will discuss 'legal citizenship over a period of time'
— Dan Merica (@danmericaCNN) September 14, 2017
The spokesman who provided that quote was Lindsay Walters. When she was asked what the difference is between “amnesty” and citizenship for illegals, she answered that she wasn’t going to “litigate” the definition of that word. That’ll be a common response from the White House as this DREAM drama plays out. Whatever it is they end up doing — legalization, permanent residency, full citizenship, putting an illegal on the ticket with Trump in 2020 — it ain’t “amnesty.” Somewhere Marco Rubio is watching this and thinking, “I can’t believe I lost to this guy.”
He also says in the clip that this isn’t some Trump/Schumer/Pelosi deal. It’s happening “in conjunction with Republicans.” We’ll see about that, though — check out Mitch McConnell’s statement, which almost qualifies as snotty:
“As Congress debates the best ways to address illegal immigration through strong border security and interior enforcement, DACA should be part of those discussions. We look forward to receiving the Trump administration’s legislative proposal as we continue our work on these issues.”
Translation: If Trump thinks Ryan and McConnell are going to take the lead on this and then get hung out to dry when the base whines that the deal isn’t good enough, he’s high. Let him put his own ass on the line for this one instead of cheerleading from the sidelines for action in the vaguest, most meaningless terms, as he did during the health-care slog. Put a bill together, send it to McConnell, and he’ll try to get it done. If Democrats won’t bite then it’s Trump’s failure, not the Senate GOP’s. McConnell’s done being a whipping boy.
What Trump should have done, knowing that Schumer and Pelosi are implacably opposed to funding the wall, is named his terms from the beginning: “Sure, we’ll do DREAM — in exchange for the RAISE Act, straight up.” Americans like DREAM but they also like components of RAISE, like reducing chain migration and implementing E-Verify. Trump could have made that the starting point for negotiations, which would have put some pressure on Schumer and Pelosi to make meaningful concessions. Even if he had “only” gotten E-Verify or a new policy prioritizing skills-based qualifications for immigrants over family connections, that would have been a meaningful achievement arguably worth trading a limited amnesty for. Instead he showed his cards — “I want DREAM too!” — and then immediately backed off his top demand, which is funding for the wall. Why do people continue to believe he’s a great negotiator?
Exit quotation via Ann Coulter: “If we’re not getting a wall, I’d prefer President Pence.”
Trump on DACA: We’re not looking at citizenship or amnesty, “we’re looking at allowing people to stay here” https://t.co/5WP4pKOjGg
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) September 14, 2017