Up until now a lot of the focus in the immigration reform debate has been on the sticky political situation Chuck Schumer finds himself in and whether or not he’ll be able to find a way to “make the deal.” Those are valid concerns which highlight a divide in the Democratic Party fully as broad as most Republican schisms you’re likely to see. But underlying it all is the question of just how good this “deal” actually is and if the GOP should be willing to accept it. I was rather surprised the first time I saw the Washington Post editorial board urging Democrats to take the deal and they’re back at it again this weekend.
Not for nothing, but if the WaPo editorial board is all fired up to get this done, perhaps we need to be looking for the mouse trap actuator under the cheese. Let’s examine their rationale for why getting this deal done in a matter of weeks is such a good idea. One hint can be found in their complaints about it, representing shortcomings which need to be addressed in the next round of negotiations. (Emphasis added)
One key to success between now and Feb. 8, the deadline Congress has set for itself, is not to try to solve the entire immigration conundrum. A grand bargain is certainly imaginable at some point. Democrats would get legal status for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country in exchange for stricter limits on, and some changes in the nature of, immigration going forward.
Well, that all sounds reasonable enough for starters. Of course, some of the details on restrictions will need to… HOLD THE PHONE. Did you just say… ELEVEN MILLION?
Look, there are still plenty of us who wanted zero amnesty for any illegal aliens. But realizing that our bicameral system requires compromise from time to time and seeing how the Democrats have their heels dug in exceptionally deep, even on things they use to support (like funding border security), we might have to give some ground. But we were talking about the DACA recipients. That was somewhere between 600K and 800K people. But the Democrats are already talking about everyone who was even eligible. Make that 1.8 million, right? That should already be out of the question. But the real goal is what the WaPo wing of the DNC is actually working on. Total amnesty for every illegal alien in the country. And that’s a non-starter.
Next, the editors at the Post explain why they’re really swallowing a big pill to agree to only one of the things we need in exchange for DACA amnesty.
What is imaginable is a smaller-scale deal: safe harbor for the “dreamers” in exchange for Mr. Trump’s wall. That’s not a deal we love, for two reasons. One is that everyone, including Mr. Trump, claims to support a pathway to citizenship for the dreamers, the undocumented immigrants who were brought here as young children through no fault of their own. Why should they be a bargaining chip at all?
Why should they be a bargaining chip? Because as sympathetic as we might be regarding the circumstances which brought them here, they are still illegal aliens. And while they may have had no choice about coming, once they reached adulthood they certainly had a choice about leaving, knowing that they were here illegally. Don’t pretend you’re asking for nothing here.
Which is why Congress should welcome Mr. Trump’s proffer of a 10- to 12-year pathway to citizenship for the estimated 1.8 million undocumented young immigrants enrolled in or potentially eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program that shielded them from deportation. The time horizon is reasonable.
That may be “Mr. Trump’s proffer” but it doesn’t reach his desk unless you get the GOP leadership to put it in the bill. We were talking about “protection” for the DACA recipients, not a pathway to citizenship. Not voting rights. Something like permanent green cards for those who avoid a criminal record and pay their taxes. I believe it’s called Permanent Resident Alien status. Oh, and in case you missed it above, the number of actual DACA recipients is well less than half of that 1.8 million figure you keep throwing around.
The WaPo goes on from there to discuss why everything else the GOP is (or at least should be) asking for is a bad idea which should be shot down in the next round of negotiations. In other words, as they make eminently clear, the only thing they want to put on the table in exchange for complete amnesty for nearly two million people is the wall. No extra funding for enforcement. No end to chain migration. No end to the lottery. No Kate’s Law.
I understand that this is the editorial board of the Post writing this and not the Democratic leadership, but the two generally wind up being indistinguishable from one another. And if that’s the deal then McConnel and Ryan should tear it up, set the pieces on fire and walk out of the room. We’ve seen this movie before and it never ends well. The short term deal that the Washington Post is talking about should be for Permanent Resident Alien status for those who were actually enrolled in DACA, not everyone who might have qualified and not for all of their parents, siblings, uncles, cousins and in-laws. And we need to be getting one hell of a lot more in exchange for that than just the wall.