The wall first, then the rest

Au­then­tic im­mi­gra­tion re­form will be Job 1 for the new pres­i­dent

The Washington Times Daily - - COMMENTARY -

Ev­ery new pres­i­dent comes to Wash­ing­ton with two lists. The first is a list of things he would like to do. That’s his wish list. He knows he won’t get to some of the items. Those are the things that are pos­si­ble but not prob­a­ble in his first four years. This is the list he keeps to him­self. The sec­ond list is much shorter, the things he must get done to make ev­ery­thing else pos­si­ble. That’s his “must-do list.”

Ron­ald Rea­gan put three things on his “must-do” list: re­vive the Amer­i­can econ­omy, win the Cold War, and re­store Amer­ica’s pride in it­self. None of it was easy. All of it was ac­com­plished. Bill Clin­ton’s list in­cluded fix­ing the econ­omy, ex­pand­ing free trade, and re­form­ing the na­tion’s health­care sys­tem. He didn’t ac­com­plish as much as the Gip­per, with Hil­lary’s health-care fi­asco the fail­ure No. 1. But he won re-elec­tion with less than a ma­jor­ity in a three-man race.

Barack Obama promised “hope and change,” keep­ing ev­ery­thing de­lib­er­ately vague un­til he got to the White House. It be­came quickly ev­i­dent why he didn’t want to iden­tify the change, be­cause he was de­ter­mined to cut Amer­ica down to size and re­cast it as a ver­sion of the Euro­pean wel­fare state. He didn’t ac­com­plish all that, but he did a lot of dam­age with his lead­ing from be­hind.

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump has lists, and it’s not yet clear all that’s on them, but ev­ery day there are hints. He, too, in­spires hope, this time for pos­i­tive change. Build­ing a wall on the border with Mex­ico, whether of brick and mor­tar or with ad­vanced elec­tron­ics, he has not said, but it’s on the list clos­est to his heart. Tough talk on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion was his sig­na­ture cam­paign prom­ise, and im­mi­gra­tion was the is­sue that made him dif­fer­ent from all the other can­di­dates in the Repub­li­can pri­maries. If he fails to fol­low through on “the wall” he’ll have a tough time hold­ing his fan base to­gether.

Like all pres­i­dents, he has a lit­tle wig­gle room. But not much. He may not make the Mex­i­cans pay for the wall, but that was more a good ap­plause line than a rea­son­able ex­pec­ta­tion. No ne­go­tia­tor puts out his bot­tom line first. That’s the heart of the art of the deal. But “the wall” re­mains the No. 1 is­sue within Repub­li­can ex­pec­ta­tions, ac­cord­ing to some of the lat­est polls.

More than 37 per­cent of Repub­li­cans polled by Ras­mussen say they ex­pect the wall to be built in the first year of the Trump pres­i­dency. That’s down from 42 per­cent in April of 2016, and from 51 per­cent 15 months ago, when the Don­ald first broached the idea dur­ing the Repub­li­can pri­maries.

With or with­out the wall Amer­i­cans are skep­ti­cal that the new pres­i­dent and the Repub­li­can Congress can get ahead of the prob­lems posed by un­con­trolled il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion. Barack Obama’s cu­ri­ous idea of lead­er­ship snuffed the hopes of mil­lions for the right kind of change. He saw im­mi­gra­tion “re­form” only as a way to get mil­lions of prospec­tive Demo­cratic vot­ers into the coun­try, which would have as­sured the left of con­trol of ev­ery­thing for a gen­er­a­tion.

With the elec­tion, that kind of com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form has been tossed to the trash, where it be­longs. Mr. Trump’s wall can be part of a con­cen­trated ef­fort to crack down on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion and to se­cure the border, the nec­es­sary first steps for bring­ing or­der out of chaos. The rest can come later. The wall first, then the rest.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.