The one-page proposal released by the White House this week would allow as many as 1.8 million young immigrants to become citizens, while also calling for $25 billion in spending on a border wall and security as well as sharply restricting family-based immigration and eliminating a visa lottery system.
“This plan flies in the face of what most Americans believe,” Schumer said on Twitter. While Trump “finally acknowledged that the Dreamers should be allowed to stay here and become citizens, he uses them as a tool to tear apart our legal immigration system and adopt the wish list that anti-immigration hardliners have advocated for for years.”
A DACA amnesty straight up in exchange for the wall would have been an interesting offer, although even there border hawks would have pointed to a recurring problem in would-be immigration deals. The left gets what it wants immediately and its gains realistically can’t be undone, whereas the right is stuck waiting for its payoff and remains at the mercy of changing political winds in the meantime. You’d never see a “wall for DACA” deal in which DACA recipients are made to wait to receive their legal status until after the wall is built. It wouldn’t be fair to them to leave them in limbo, Democrats would say, and many Republicans would agree. Which is not a problem *if* you believe a Democratic-run government circa 2021 would keep up its end of the bargain and complete the wall even though they’d have the legislative power to stop construction.
Does anyone on the right trust President Elizabeth Warren or President Kamala Harris to do that?
Even so, the “wall for DACA” deal might be worth doing from a Republican perspective because it’s quite possible Democrats *won’t* dominate government anytime soon. Incumbent presidents are hard to beat, even when they’re unpopular. Two terms of Trump are a real possibility, in which case the GOP would have seven years to make progress on the southern border before Democrats can force a change. Schumer might have gone for that bargain, even knowing that Trump might be there until 2025 to see the wall to completion, since it likely won’t be a major deterrent to illegal immigration anyway.
The “problem” with Trump’s offer yesterday wasn’t the wall component, it was the rollback of chain migration, which is an absolute dealbreaker for the left. Legalizing upwards of two million illegals who are already here is nice but there’s a much larger universe of foreigners out there for them to import. They’re not going to trade 10 million would-be constituents in the future for two million illegals who are destined to be legalized sooner or later anyway given the breadth of popular support for doing so. Which is amazing, because as Mark Krikorian points out, Trump’s offer on chain migration was itself exceedingly generous to the left:
The outline says that no new applications for the visa lottery and the chain-migration categories would be accepted, limiting family immigration to spouses and minor children. Great! But it also provides for the continuation of those categories (and reallocation of the lottery visas) until the admission of all 4 million people on the current chain-migration waiting lists. This is the same gimmick that was in the Hagel-Martinez amnesty bill in 2007 – and the estimate at the time was that it would take 17 years before all those people got their green cards. In other words, legal immigration would not actually be reduced until after President Kamala Harris’s successor took office…
But to wait almost two decades before there’s any reduction in legal admissions is absurd. First of all, if we’re going to amnesty close to 2 million illegal aliens (and maybe more, since past estimates have proven so woefully wrong), that needs to be offset by immediate reductions elsewhere. What’s more this would be yet another example of the other side getting what it wants up front, with promises of things we want in the future. As Popeye’s friend J. Wellington Wimpy might have said, “I will gladly reduce immigration on Tuesday for an amnesty today.”
Trump offered amnesty for the entire DACA class — not just people who enrolled in the program but anyone who was eligible — plus a verrrrrrrry long delay in imposing new limits on chain migration until everyone on line to enter the U.S. was safely through the gates, and still Schumer wouldn’t take it. Trump is chalking that up to petulance:
DACA has been made increasingly difficult by the fact that Cryin’ Chuck Schumer took such a beating over the shutdown that he is unable to act on immigration!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2018
That’s possible, that whining from the left has forced Schumer to drive a harder bargain than he’d like, but I don’t think that explains it.
Let me drop a truth bomb on you: There will never be another bipartisan deal on immigration in which the right gains something meaningful. Democrats believe they’re holding all the cards and they’re probably right — and even if they aren’t, they’re likely to operate under that illusion for a long time. Demographics are changing, the U.S. electorate leans a bit Democratic to begin with, and Republicans are far more divided on this issue than the left is. It’s increasingly obvious that the only way border hawks will be able to impose their will legislatively is for Republicans to not only control the entire government but to have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate (or a Senate without a filibuster) — which they’ve never had, ever. And even if they piled up 60 seats and could pass anything they liked, the difference of opinion on the right between the Tom Cottons of the world and the Lindsey Graham squish faction would give Democrats the numbers they need to block restrictionist proposals.
All of that being so, and knowing that the political climate this fall favors his party, what incentive does Schumer have to do a deal that involves any meaningful concession by the left? He has a short-term problem in that his base expects him to shut down the government to force a deal on DACA, but Trump has a short-term problem too in deciding what to do about his deadline to end DACA in March. He’s probably going to cave and keep the program going and Schumer knows it, which will soften the disappointment to left-wing amnesty shills if there’s no DACA deal in February. And then Schumer will remind them that, as angry as they are, the way to force Trump to bend a knee and agree to a DACA amnesty on even more favorable terms to the left is to hand Democrats more congressional seats in November. Something like 80 percent of the public supports legalizing DREAMers. Under those circumstances, why should Schumer accept *any* limits on chain migration when he can just be patient and wait for Trump, or a new Democratic president, to come to him later with a better offer?
I know I’m a broken record in saying that Democrats, not Republicans, are the true radicals on immigration but reality is what it is. David French:
Immigration (race), abortion (gender), and gay marriage (sexual orientation) activate key portions of an increasingly identity-driven Democratic coalition, and the activist base doesn’t just nudge the party to the left, it shoves as hard as it can. While it shoves, it also shouts about all the “isms” and “phobias” that slander the opposition and silence dissent…
Moreover, such is the cultural power of the progressive machine that it’s utterly blind to its own extremism. It moves and sets the so-called Overton window, the boundaries of acceptable political discourse on any given topic. It’s how a conservative can suddenly become an “extremist” without changing his position. In 1998, a Democrat could still exist happily within the center of the Democratic party while believing that the border should be controlled, marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and the right to abortion can and should be limited. Twenty years later, that same person is a right-wing bigot, and the positions that were formerly radical-left are now the new mainstream.
I made the abortion/immigration comparison myself last week. We are reaching the point, if we haven’t reached it already, where Democratic leaders will have no choice but to support granting any non-criminal who wants to move to the United States — legally or not — a de facto right to do so and, once legally established, a further right to bring their entire family over too. Did Hillary Clinton say anything to make you think otherwise in 2016? To the contrary. That’s another reason why Schumer is balking at an attempt to reduce chain migration, even on an extremely delayed schedule: It’s because, as French said, any legal limit on immigration is treated as racist by the progressive wing. Populists are never more prone to rhetorical bombthrowing than on the subject of immigration, but to accuse Democrats of being effectively in favor of open borders isn’t exaggeration. As I say, reality is what it is.