Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Why Trump’s ‘Dreamers’ Deal Probably WON'T Happen
A month ago, liberals were celebrating a sudden deal on “Dreamers” that President Trump made with congressional Democrats. Chuck Schumer, the senate minority leader, was downright giddy when a hot mic later caught him gloating that Trump “likes me.”
Now the wedding is off, the bromance kaput, and a new deal will have to be made. Blame it on the wall.
Trump’s bid for bipartisanship was the talk of Washington, especially after he confirmed the outlines himself, including the fact that funding for his signature wall on the border with Mexico would “come later.” But somewhere along the line, the man who wrote the “Art of the Deal” realized he had made a classically bad bargain.
Trump gave away too much, and got almost nothing in return. Dems got protections for the 800,000 “Dreamers,” who were brought to America illegally as minors, yet the president got no Dem votes on the repeal of ObamaCare, tax reform or anything else on his agenda.
Most important, Trump’s willingness to exclude funding for the wall was seen as a betrayal by many of his core supporters, people who had voted for him precisely because of his tough immigration stance. Nothing says tough like the wall.
There is a wall and high fencing along portions of the border, and although a wall along the entire border would be impractical and wildly expensive, Trump’s repeated promises to build it–and have Mexico pay for it — became a ringing example of the commitment to change he represented.
Take away that promise, and the deal with the Dems could be mocked as business as usual, or “amnesty first, border security never.” It looked as if Trump had joined those in Washington of both parties who, despite modest differences, fundamentally believe in lax borders if not open borders.
That history, and Trump’s realization of his mistake, explains the long list of actions the White House released Sunday that it said must be part of any deal on the “Dreamers.”
These include hiring 10,000 immigration agents, restrictions on asylum and cutting federal grants to “sanctuary cities.” But first and foremost is funding for the wall.
This time it was the Dems who reacted with horror, with Schumer saying Trump “can’t be serious” if he thinks he can get a deal on those terms. That’s exactly how Trump supporters reacted a month ago.
And so it goes, as the immigration gridlock that has prevailed more or less since 1986 remains firmly in place. Nobody likes the status quo, but, politically, neither side is willing to make significant compromises.
His desire to break that gridlock, and his frustration with congressional Republicans, led Trump to the deal he made, and now has unmade.
In that move, he gave congress six months to turn the executive action into legislation. When the GOP majority grumbled, Trump quickly cut his deal with Schumer and Pelosi in a meeting where no Republicans were invited.
I still think a deal is possible, with the White House demands reasonable and subject to compromise. Would 7,500 immigration agents be enough? Similarly, there is wiggle room on asylum and other features of the list, though it’s unlikely that Dems would agree to penalize sanctuary cities, since almost all have Democratic mayors.
If Trump took that demand off the table, that would still leave the wall. For his core supporters, it is as close to sacred as politics gets, and I don’t believe he will or should make a deal unless some funding for expanding the wall is part of it.
Giving it up, he would lose the trust of much of his base, and for what? He could give Dems everything they want and they would still hate him and try to impeach him.
That means, for a deal to happen, the Dems must find a way to compromise on the wall. For now, Schumer says it can’t happen, that the wall is a nonstarter.
If that’s his final offer, it’s a mistake. Trump is a deal-maker, but if Schumer won’t meet him halfway, the fate of the “Dreamers” is on his head.