Frank Sharry: “Is the GOP strategy to pair Dream Act and a reasonable border security package so that it gets done, or to scuttle Dreamer relief by loading up a focused legislative fix with poison pills so that it fails?”
Negotiations over the future of Dreamers continue, including a meeting today between President Trump and a group of Republican Senators. For us, the essential question is this: Do President Trump and Republicans want to forge a reasonable, bipartisan deal and pass the Dream Act? Or are they more interested in creating a political issue and setting up a blame-game?
As Dara Lind captures in a sharp Vox analysis, “The real DACA negotiation is Republicans negotiating with themselves,” there is “a deal to be made on immigration — if Republicans want it.” She writes:
There are two different ways to approach a negotiation. You can decide that your first priority is getting to yes — to making a deal — and work backward from there to versions of a deal that enough people would accept.
Or you can decide that your first priority is winning the deal — that you only want to make a deal if it accepts certain conditions, and that if those conditions aren’t met, it’s better to have neither the deal nor the conditions at all.
It doesn’t seem like the Trump administration and Republican leadership have decided which approach they actually want to take.
The following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
Is the GOP strategy to pair Dream Act and a reasonable border security package so that it gets done, or to scuttle Dreamer relief by loading up a focused legislative fix with poison pills so that it fails?
For some Republicans — think Stephen Miller, Rep. Bob Goodlatte and Senator John Cornyn — the strategy is pretty clear: pretend you want a deal (because the President has said he wants one, they can’t outright oppose it); load up a straightforward deal that pairs the bipartisan Dream Act with a bipartisan border security package with poison pill provisions (an unnecessary border wall, interior enforcement and cuts in legal immigration); and then when Republican bad faith blows up the deal, blame the Democrats.
But for lawmakers interested in a solution, this should be a fairly simple proposition: respect the wishes of the overwhelming percentage of Americans, including Republicans, who want to fix the urgent crisis for Dreamers created by Trump; give Republicans a ‘win’ on border security; enact the Dream Act, a bill that recognizes Dreamers as the Americans they already are.
“We’re working on a plan for DACA,” Trump said as he left the White House on Thursday for a trip to survey hurricane damage in Florida.
Trump said that he and Congress are “fairly close” to a deal and that Republican leaders Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.) are “very much on board” with a deal that would address DACA. The agreement must include “massive border security,” Trump said in response to shouted questions about whether he had reached a deal on the terms Schumer and Pelosi had described.
“The wall will come later” he said, apparently confirming a central element of the Democrats’ account.
But then Stephen Miller and the nativists went to work. He and his allies came up with a long list of “must-have” proposals aimed at upsetting the balanced framework announced by the President and Democratic leadership. The list includes almost the entire nativist agenda: slash legal immigration by eliminating entire categories; institute a mandatory E-Verify system aimed at driving millions of undocumented workers out of their jobs; punish local jurisdictions that limit collusion with Trump’s federal deportation agents; turn back asylum-seekers escaping the violence of Central America’s northern triangle, turbocharge penalties, sentences and detention, build a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border, and more.
Evidently, the President, has been pushed by Miller and his enablers in Congress into demanding that the Dream Act be paired with much of this agenda. But here’s the problem: the Republicans are demanding 90% of their agenda and the Democrats are asking for 10% of their agenda. This imbalance is likely to make a deal for Dreamers impossible. It makes us suspicious that the goal is just that: to make a deal for Dreamers impossible. The hardliners seem intent on setting up a “heads I win, tails you lose” situation: either anti-immigrant Republicans get all of what they want in exchange for taking Dreamers hostage – a wall, turbocharged interior enforcement, and deep cuts to legal immigration – or they get to scuttle a Dreamer deal while blaming Democrats for not paying the ransom.
Here’s what Congress should do: pass a focused and balanced bill that combines the bipartisan Dream Act with a focused and bipartisan border security package. And for all other issues — legal immigration, interior enforcement and more — should be the subject of a second round of policy discussions. For example, in 2013 when Democrats agreed to eliminate some legal immigration categories and expand interior enforcement, it was in the context of a comprehensive bill that put most of the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants, including Dreamers, on a path to citizenship, and expanded and modernized our outdated legal immigration system.
That was the goal: a balanced, bipartisan approach that gave both sides much of what they wanted. That same goal — a balanced, bipartisan approach to resolving the Dreamer crisis that Trump created — should be what Congress deals with right now.