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White House to Hold Dreamers Hostage in Pursuit of a White Nationalist Agenda?

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Why the Reported “Deal” is a Non-Starter

A report from Anita Kumar of McClatchy reveals that some in the White House want to use Dreamers as a “bargaining chip” in a larger immigration legislative debate:

Donald Trump’s top aides are pushing him to protect young people brought into the country illegally as children — and then use the issue as a bargaining chip for a larger immigration deal … White House officials want Trump to strike an ambitious deal with Congress that offers Dreamers protection in exchange for legislation that pays for a border wall and more detention facilities, curbs legal immigration and implements E-verify, an online system that allows businesses to check immigration status, according to a half-dozen people familiar with situation, most involved with the negotiations.

As Greg Sargent of the Washington Post writes in response, “It would constitute giving the restrictionists a whole range of things they covet, in exchange for not removing protections from Dreamers that even many Republicans are loath to see removed.”

Here are three key points to keep in mind in light of the floated legislative scenario:

  • Morally wrong as a tactic and indefensible as policy: Holding the lives and futures of Dreamers hostage to enact key planks from the anti-immigrant agenda is morally wrong. Some 800,000 young people are contributing to the country they call home, because they have protection against deportation and work permits. Their protection through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program should be kept in place until Congress enacts a permanent solution. Period. The notion of trading protections for Dreamers for a border wall, more detention facilities, deep cuts in legal immigration levels and a mandatory E-Verify system that would make the dysfunctional immigration system even worse is as obnoxious as it is counterproductive. Let’s be clear: this agenda is part and parcel of the white nationalism that infects this Administration. They want to deport Latinos, block Asians, ban Muslims, stop refugees, and kick out Africans and Haitians to further their goal of remaking the racial composition of America.
  • This idea emanates from the fever swamps of the white nationalist movement: The idea to plunge the future of Dreamers into doubt in hopes of extracting the maximalist agenda of nativists originates not in the White House but from the anti-immigrant groups on the outside. For example, Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies – a group that Southern Poverty Law Center has designated a hate group –  has consistently floated the idea of trading relief for Dreamers for the RAISE Act and mandatory E-Verify.
  • In the end, Democrats have leverage: Most Congressional experts predict that the only vehicles for legislation this year will be the measures to keep government funded and to lift the debt ceiling. Since many Republicans, starting with the Freedom Caucus, oppose such spending measures, the only way to pass such bills is for Republicans to work with Democrats to fashion bipartisan compromises. As a result, and should it prove necessary, Democrats and pro-Dreamer Republicans will have a lot more say in a final bill than right wing Republicans who want to expose Dreamers to deportation.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

The reason Dreamers are under threat is because Republicans put them under threat. Hardliners want to upend their lives, take away their work permits and subject them to deportation. The way to solve it is by preserving and defending DACA until Congress enacts a permanent solution. The idea that the Trump Administration is going to exploit this self-made crisis to enact a nativist agenda is as ridiculous as it is obnoxious. President Trump should insist that DACA stay in place, and Congress should work to enact a clean Dream Act to translate their temporary status into a roadmap to citizenship.