The Senate politics of Trump’s immigration proposal

Tom Cotton is right, the support of Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin isn’t necessary to pass an immigration bill. However, some Democratic support is.

The proposal President Trump has put forward likely will need more than nine Democratic votes, since not all Senate Republicans can be expected to vote for it. For example, Ted Cruz says he’s opposed. Indeed, he believes there should be no path to citizenship for the DACA population, never mind the “Dreamers.”

How much Democratic support will Trump’s framework garner in the Senate? It’s too early to tell, but not too early to speculate.

The Red State Dems who face difficult reelection battles this year might well sign on. But there are only about five or six of them.

The erosion of Democratic support for the shutdown that caused Schumer to cave suggests there are additional Senate Dems who might be willing to buck Schumer this time, when push comes to shove. The temptation of seeing nearly two million illegal immigrants become citizens, while four million immigrants remain eligible to enter via chain migration (Trump’s proposal limits chain migration but does not affect those already in the queue), may tempt some non-Red State Democrats to defect. It should.

However, if I had to guess, I’d say Trump’s proposal is likely to come up a little bit short. If so, what happens then?

One possibility is a deal with bare bones protection, but no path to citizenship, for the DACA population in exchange for a wall of some sort. Another possibility is no deal at all.

If there’s no deal, Republicans will be well-positioned, come November, to rip the Democrats for filibustering a generous amnesty/path to citizenship proposal that had bipartisan support. After all, the Dems will have turned down full relief for around two million young (and youngish) illegal immigrants in the name of chain migration, the diversity lottery, resisting the wall — none of which is terribly popular. In addition, the Democratic caucus will be divided.

If the political tide is running as strongly in the Democrats’ favor as they believe, this probably won’t matter. But Democrats would be taking a political risk, I think, were they to enter election crunch time having left two million illegal immigrants high and dry after Trump generously (too generously in my view) proposed to give them amnesty and a path to citizenship.

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