No? Neither are Ted Cruz and Dianne Feinstein, according to Politico’s Burgess Everett, but they’re at least talking about a fix to end family separations at the border. The discussion might signal that Democrats could back some form of legislative fix to enable border enforcement, but on what terms?
The two senators both represent border states but couldn’t be further apart on immigration. Feinstein wants to pass a “clean” bill to enshrine protections for young immigrants threatened by deportation; Cruz warned that Republicans would lose Congress if they provided “amnesty” to those same people.
But that might be the point: Cruz and Feinstein are trying to hash out a compromise that shields families from being separated and can win a strong majority in the Senate. If these two, of all people, can come to terms on a deal, there’s no reason for anyone in the chamber to vote against it, their colleagues reason.
Well, that depends on what the compromise contains, but the two figures involved are almost designed to make a case for an eventual bill. Cruz is a hardliner on immigration issues, and Feinstein is getting pushed further to the Left by fellow Democrats in California. About the only overlap between them will be family separations, an outcome that is so bad that it’s a rare point of bipartisan agreement, and possibly an extension of circumstances for asylum, depending on just how broad that gets.
Everett likens this issue to DACA and the “dreamers,” pessimistically comparing the outcome on DACA negotiations to this situation. That’s a different kettle of fish, however; while sympathy for the students in question extends across the aisle, there is far less consensus about the nature of DACA than there is on the nature of family separations. Besides, DACA is a significant part of larger immigration policy, while family separations are basically an operational issue that got complicated by earlier efforts to end human trafficking. Family separations can get addressed in isolation; DACA will require a broader fix to end the incentive structures that it puts in place for further illegal immigration.
That may be why Chuck Schumer feels comfortable enough to encourage Feinstein to keep working with Cruz, who is highly unlikely to come off his hardline positions on other points of immigration policy. This is an easily fixed situation, so obstruction on this point carries its own political risks. A compromise between these two positions will necessarily require the narrowest of approaches, assuming they can come to a compromise at all.
So far, though, the two principals seem hopeful:
“There will always be issues on which the two parties have real and significant differences,” Cruz said. But “everyone agrees the best place for children is with their parents. So there should be a bipartisan solution.”
“Our job is to try to be constructive and solve problems. And … you generally work with people … who show interest,” Feinstein said. “He may have some different views than I have. That works two ways. The key is to sit down and work it out, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
It might take a little horse trading on asylum, but if that gets Trump a green light for his zero-tolerance enforcement at the border, it’s likely to be worth it. The only way out of the dead-end EO signed earlier this week is to get past a cloture vote in the Senate, and there aren’t enough red-state Democrats running for re-election to get there. That means giving something to get something, and at least it’s Cruz rather than Susan Collins heading up those negotiations.