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Here are our key takeaways from yesterday:
As a result, prospects for legislation that protect Dreamers are now grim. Those who ask us what’s next, should direct that question to the President. He created the crisis; most Republicans won’t vote for anything that can pass unless he gives them permission; he won’t give them permission and the vast majority of Republicans won’t cross him.
Let’s review: Trump has rejected five serious bipartisan solutions in seven months. 1) A border/Dream framework hatched over dinner with Chuck and Nancy: rejected; 2) a Graham-Durbin deal that touched on all four pillars of Trump’s demands: rejected by Thursday Trump, with his racist rant added for emphasis; 3) Schumer’s offer of $25 billion for Trump’s border wall just before the shutdown: rejected; the McCain-Coons border/Dream bill brought up yesterday: rejected; the Rounds-King compromise with $25 billion for border security and some restrictions on family immigration and Dream Act: rejected.
Unfortunately, the truth is staring us in the face: right now, Trump doesn’t want Congress to enact legislation to protect Dreamers. Sure, he says that if all of his radical and racist demands are met, he’ll release the hostages and sign legislation. But as the Senate proved yesterday, his plan is dead. Unless he changes course dramatically, the conclusion is inescapable: he doesn’t want Congress to enact legislation to protect Dreamers.
Leading observers are echoing these points, clear-eyed about who’s to blame for the continued failure to deliver on behalf of Dreamers and the more than 80% of Americans who want Congress to protect Dreamers:
Wall Street Journal editorial, “President Miller’s Immigration Veto”
President Trump may need a refresher course in deal-making after the Senate on Thursday rejected his take-it-or-leave-it offer on immigration. He could start by recalling who’s President, and stop giving adviser Stephen Miller a policy veto.
…By demanding too much, Mr. Trump will get an embarrassing political defeat. Mr. Trump can recover from Thursday’s defeat, but he’ll need to be the President who told Members of Congress in January that if they strike a deal that gives him the wall in return for Dreamer legalization he’ll “take the heat.” The restrictionist minority on the right erupted, and Mr. Miller persuaded him to demand more.
…Mr. Trump issued the order repealing a safe harbor for the Dreamers, and he’ll rightly get the political blame if he now blocks a sensible compromise to save them from deportation to countries they barely know.
Greg Sargent in the Washington Post, “Trump and Republicans Will Own this Disaster”:
…what has happened so far has hidden value: It has illustrated the true battle lines in the broader argument over immigration with a level of clarity that was perhaps previously missing. Here they are:
Democrats believe the dreamers have a claim to a place in American life, along with millions of other undocumented immigrants who have not otherwise broken the law and have longtime ties to communities. Democrats want to facilitate their humane integration, rather than ramping up their removal; they favor allowing current legal immigration levels to continue.
Trump and most Republicans don’t believe the dreamers have a claim to a place in American life. They believe that as many undocumented immigrants should be removed from the United States as possible, even if they have otherwise broken no other laws and have longtime ties to communities. They want far fewer legal immigrants to settle here in the future. The Trump vision is that of a shriveled, insular minority. Large majorities favor protecting the dreamers, oppose cuts to legal immigration, and reject Trump’s basic arguments about immigrants being a malevolent and destructive force.
…In keeping with that, Trump and Republicans have worked very hard to obscure how outside the mainstream their position really is. This is why Republicans keep claiming in one form or another that Trump’s is the “mainstream, middle-ground” position; that Trump’s offer was “enormously generous“; that Trump met the Democrats “more than halfway.”
But the position of Trump and Republicans has now been exposed. They will only protect the dreamers in exchange for help in stepping up deportations and huge expenditures on a border wall and large cuts to legal immigration, all of which are hideously unpopular…
James Hohmann in “The Daily 202” political tipsheet, “Immigration Failure Shows the Ideologues Are Ascendant in the Trump White House”:
Donald Trump could have gotten his border wall. Democrats were willing to cave on that in exchange for saving the “dreamers.” That would have fulfilled the president’s single biggest campaign promise, and he might have taken a triumphant victory lap.
But Trump moved the goalposts, demanded dramatic reductions in legal immigration and then mobilized to kill a bipartisan compromise that would have given him much of what – until very recently – he said he wanted. The White House demanded all or nothing. For now, he gets nothing.
…Then, in a stinging rebuke, only 39 senators voted for Trump’s four-prong immigration framework. He needed 60. The president’s refusal to accept a meaningful victory, because he wanted a bigger one, is just the latest illustration of the degree to which he has fallen under the thrall of his most rigidly ideological advisers.
New York Times editorial, “Trump Kills Compromise on Immigration”
This past week was meant to be dedicated to a rare open debate on immigration in the Senate, and once again, centrist Democrats and Republicans proposed a pair of similar and reasonable compromises on what has arguably become the most charged issue of the day. Alas, they both fell before the anti-immigration furor of the Trump administration. But then President Trump’s own hardline immigration bill fell much harder, leaving the fate of the so-called Dreamers in limbo.
…Now that the senators have witnessed a decisive bipartisan rejection of Mr. Trump’s get-tough approach, they might see their way to reconsider a more modest measure that takes the Dreamers out of limbo and enhances security. A deal, in other words, that actually does something about the system beyond cruelly using immigrants as pawns in political games and forever blaming the other side.