The President’s Immigration Olive Branch

In a 15 minute speech this afternoon, President Trump once again described the crisis at the Southern border and offered a compromise proposal to the Democrats. It wouldn’t resolve immigration issues, he said, but it would address the immediate crisis at the border and allow the government to reopen.

It was an excellent speech, and well delivered. It was, I think, Trump at his best–the Democrats can only hope that not many people, relatively speaking, see it.

Trump’s proposal is simple: he gets $800 million for humanitarian relief, $800 million for drug detection, more border agents and immigration judges, and $5.7 billion for physical barriers in high-priority locations. In exchange, the Democrats get three-years of relief for “DACA recipients.” That is, for three more years they can get work permits and social security numbers, and are safe from deportation. Likewise, there would be a three-year extension of Temporary Protected Status for around 300,000. This, Trumps says, will give everyone time to work on a larger effort to address immigration issues on a permanent basis.

Trump’s offer is, I think, a good one. A few on the right have attacked him for being willing to offer “amnesty.” My own view is that anyone who thinks the DACA population is ever going to be deported has been taking advantage of legal marijuana. We need to stanch the bleeding at the border to prevent the DACA problem from reappearing, in even greater numbers, in the next generation.

The president’s proposal will be brought to a vote next week by Mitch McConnell. Democratic leaders rejected it out of hand before hearing it. It will be interesting to see how many vote for it. Apparently the Democrats–who couldn’t care less about spending $5.7 billion on anything else–are convinced that they can’t allow Trump to get his way on the wall, for political reasons. This is a hill they evidently are willing to die on.

On its face, this seems like a poor decision. Trump’s proposal will no doubt be popular with a clear majority of those who understand what it is. I assume the Democrats are counting on the press to run interference for them. Which it will do, of course, but I am not sure the terms of Trump’s offer can be kept secret. Two million people have already watched his speech on Twitter. Here it is: