Why Trump's immigration gambit will likely backfire

Compared to the 2006 and 2013 experiences, it’s less certain that the Senate today can attract 60 votes for a bill protecting the Dreamers. The ferocity of Trump’s anti-immigration agenda has enormously widened the distance between the parties since then. Conservatives in Congress and the administration have already floated proposals to link any protection for Dreamers to some combination of cuts in legal immigration, funds for Trump’s border wall, tougher workplace enforcement, and harsher punishment for “sanctuary” cities that don’t fully cooperate with federal immigration enforcement demands.

Few Congressional Democrats would accept any of those ideas (especially since a bill covering DACA recipients would provide legal status to fewer than 10 percent as many undocumented immigrants as the earlier plans that traded legalization for more enforcement). Even the least objectionable way to marry a bill legalizing DACA recipients with enforcement—more dollars for immigration and border-patrol agents—would face more resistance on the left than in 2013 because the money would fund Trump’s enforcement agenda, not Obama’s.