Speaker Nancy Pelosi raised a few eyebrows recently when she called the President’s proposed border wall “immoral.” It’s a theme that many of her liberal colleagues and supporters picked up on quickly. Normally, when a new talking point such as this one erupts in the news cycle you can expect much of the mainstream media to play along with the tune, but that’s not the case this week. Shockingly, the editorial board of the Washington Post appeared to take Pelosi to task, asking why a border wall is an immoral idea and instead proposing a different approach.
Those seeking a compromise might reasonably invest their hopes in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a canny political pro who is second to none in getting to yes. However, she will have an easier time pulling a rabbit out of this hat if she stops opposing Mr. Trump’s wall in absolutist terms, calling it “immoral,” as she did last month, and “an immorality between countries,” as she said Thursday.
We understand the sentiment: Mr. Trump’s inflaming of prejudice and lying about the danger posed by immigrants is indeed immoral. But the problem with a wall isn’t that it’s immoral; Democrats have never opposed border security, including by means of tall fencing where that makes sense. The problem with Mr. Trump’s wall is that it would be ineffective and a waste of money. Illegal border crossing into the United States has been dropping for decades, as measured by the numbers of migrants arrested at the Southwestern frontier…
Rather than talk about the immorality of a wall, Democrats could use their leverage to achieve a truly moral purpose. In return for a few billion dollars for a segment of the president’s wall — which would immediately be challenged in court by property owners along the border — Democrats might permanently shield from deportation well over 1 million “dreamers,” young migrants brought to this country as children by their parents.
So the buried nugget of strategy is found in the last paragraph of that excerpt. Note that the WaPo board is quick to bow and scrape to Pelosi by peppering their opinion piece with insults to the President, agreeing that he’s an immoral person. But even if his idea is terrible, they suggest using that “immoral” desire of Donald Trump to get something they’ve wanted for a very long time. That would be amnesty and citizenship for the dreamers.
This may come as a shock to regular readers, but despite the dishonest approach being taken here by the WaPo, the underlying idea probably isn’t all that terrible if it contains some appropriate modifications. While there remains broad public support for secure borders and control of who can or can’t enter the country (whether voters want a wall to be part of it or not), there’s been a growing sentiment for some time that the public is on the side of creating some sort of accommodation for the dreamers. Trump himself has spoken of such a possible deal in the past.
Less than a year ago President Trump was talking about a “two-phase” plan where dreamers could obtain some form of permanent residency if they met all the requirements. Of course, even then he was indicating that he’d want something in return. A growing number of Republicans in Congress have also indicated that such a deal might be possible.
Is this period of government shutdown the time when The Art of the Deal could sail in and offer a solution? As most of you know, I remain an absolutist in opposing amnesty for the most part. But the President appears to be digging a progressively deeper and deeper hole as this stalemate drags on. So long as it doesn’t include immediate citizenship, perhaps a plan where permanent resident alien status was offered to qualifying dreamers in exchange for $5.7B for the wall and reopening the government could be considered.
Will Trump be able to get to yes on something like this after drawing such a red line in the sand regarding money for the wall? That’s the real question. But he’s changed course before when it was expedient to do so. It’s at least worth considering.