On Immigration, the Art of the Deal

Drudge’s headlines scream: “DREAMERS MAY GET THEIR DREAM / TRUMP DEALING ON IMMIGRATION.” CNN, the president’s most reviled network, says: “Trump envisions bill allowing many immigrants to stay in US.”

President Donald Trump wants to pass an immigration reform bill that could grant legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants living in the US.

“The time is right for an immigration bill as long as there is compromise on both sides,” Trump told reporters Tuesday at the White House.

The President is eager to pass a compromise immigration bill in his first term that would stop short of granting a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, but would allow undocumented immigrants who aren’t serious or violent criminals to live, work and pay taxes in the US without fear of deportation, a senior administration official said. And Trump is now considering adding the topic to his speech Tuesday night before his address to a joint session of Congress.

A path to citizenship for those in the country illegally would not be part of Trump’s vision for this deal, with the possible exception of “Dreamers” — those brought into the US illegally as children.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. As I have written before, Trump has always been something of a squish on immigration. Moreover, Trump has never made a secret of his business strategy–stake out a strong position, and then deal from it. The fact that the Democrats have portrayed him as a bogeyman on immigration puts him in a unique position to negotiate comprehensive immigration reform, sort of like Nixon going to China.

And the timing of this story is great. The Democrats have promised to be on (relatively) good behavior tonight. But they are packing the gallery with “immigrants,” legal and otherwise. If Trump talks about a proposed deal tonight, it could sow some real consternation on the other side.

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