Trump’s list

Dick Durbin may be playing dumb on the “Dreamers,” but President Trump isn’t. On Sunday evening, he released his immigration principles that “outline reforms that must be included as part of any legislation addressing the status of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.”

As we have explained, DACA recipients are a subset of Dreamers. They are the ones who came forward to take advantage of the DACA program illegally instituted by President Obama. Trump has expressed willingness to back legislation that grants them permanent status, in exchange for concessions from Democrats on border security and related issues. Now, he has set forth a list of the reforms he wants.

What are these reforms? They include funding the border wall, significantly beefing up staffing of ICE, ending asylum abuse, stopping sanctuary cities, requiring E-Verify, and ending chain migration and the visa lottery.

The Democrats immediately cried foul. Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi complained that Trump’s list “fails to represent any attempt at compromise.”

Certainly, Trump’s list is aggressive. It is best viewed as an opening bid. I’m pretty sure Trump would sign DACA legislation that did not include all of the items he enumerated. If so, the list represents an attempt to negotiate a compromise.

Whether a compromise can be reached depends on whether congressional Democrats are willing to accept some of what Trump is calling for. The Dems haven’t shown that willingness. As Mark Krikorian says, Schumer and Pelosi would be willing to accept meaningless border security theater — e.g., drones — in exchange for a DACA amnesty. But it’s not clear that the Democratic base would allow even this.

Krikorian reminds us that last month anti-borders radicals shouted down Nancy Pelosi, screaming “We are not a bargaining chip!” and “All of us or none of us!” In other words, the anti-borders activists are demanding a “clean DREAM Act” (which would be many times larger than a simple DACA fix) without even flaccid border security provisions. In that environment, says Krikorian, the Dems are in no position to bargain with Trump.

Thus, in a sense, Trump has done Schumer and Pelosi a favor. They can pretend to be interested in compromise, but claim, falsely, that the president’s aggressive list makes compromise impossible.

At the same time, Trump has done immigration hardliners a favor. In Krikorian’s words, he has made it “less likely Congress would send him, or he’d sign, a naked DACA amnesty, maybe with some fig-leaf border security provisions,” an approach favored not just by Pelosi and Schumer, but also more than a few Republicans. “Having raised the bar like this, signing a DACA bill that doesn’t include some significant portion of what’s outlined would be a Neville Chamberlain-level failure of deal-making, and would have political consequences,” Krikorian concludes.

With Donald Trump, nothing is certain, but Krikorian’s analysis seems sound. The upshot? Probably no DACA fix by March, when DACA work permits start expiring at the rate of a few hundred a day.

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