What hap­pened

White House’s new de­mands for ‘Dreamer’ deal

The Week (US) - - News 5 -

Pres­i­dent Trump this week re­versed a ten­ta­tive deal he’d struck with Democrats to pro­tect young un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants known as “Dream­ers” from de­por­ta­tion, as the White House is­sued Congress a list of hard-line im­mi­gra­tion de­mands. In ex­change for ex­tend­ing the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rival pro­gram (DACA), which would shield 800,000 im­mi­grants brought to the U.S. as chil­dren from de­por­ta­tion, the ad­min­is­tra­tion said it would in­sist on com­plete fund­ing for Trump’s pro­posed bor­der wall with Mexico, the hir­ing of 10,000 new im­mi­gra­tion agents, and tougher rules for claim­ing asy­lum in the U.S. It also de­manded stricter lim­its on le­gal im­mi­gra­tion, in­clud­ing re­strict­ing fam­ily-based green cards to chil­dren and spouses.

Demo­cratic lead­ers, who last month sig­naled they had reached a deal with Trump to grant Dream­ers per­ma­nent le­gal sta­tus, re­acted with alarm, and ac­cused the ad­min­is­tra­tion of try­ing to scut­tle for­mal ne­go­ti­a­tions be­fore they even be­gin. They said the new de­mands clearly re­flected the pri­or­i­ties of anti-im­mi­gra­tion hawks like At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions and Stephen Miller, the pres­i­dent’s se­nior pol­icy ad­viser. “If the pres­i­dent was se­ri­ous about pro­tect­ing the Dream­ers, his staff has not made a good faith ef­fort to do so,” Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi said.

What the columnists said

“It’s ob­vi­ous this move is rooted in a de­sire to pla­cate Trump’s base,” said Greg Sar­gent in The Wash­ing­ton Post. The pres­i­dent knows full well that Democrats will never agree to “any­thing even close to this ab­surd wish list.” But as his agenda fal­ters, Trump is in­creas­ingly con­cerned that “his peo­ple” will think he’s a loser, so he’s fall­ing back on the ex­treme po­si­tions that played well dur­ing the cam­paign. “It’s much eas­ier to sink a deal on the Dream­ers than to bro­ker one,” said Jonathan Bl­itzer in New Yorker.com. Even though polling shows that just 1 in 5 Amer­i­cans wants the Dream­ers de­ported, im­mi­gra­tion ex­trem­ists like Miller are bet­ting that “the main­stream no longer mat­ters.”

“Democrats ac­tu­ally have lit­tle lever­age over the pres­i­dent on this is­sue,” said Jonathan Tobin in Na­tion­alRe­view.com. To keep DACA alive, Schumer and Pelosi will have to make se­ri­ous con­ces­sions on bor­der se­cu­rity, which will en­rage the many on the Left who be­lieve any re­stric­tions on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion are racist and un­ac­cept­able. That will put Demo­cratic law­mak­ers in a tricky spot. Help­ing the Dream­ers may be po­lit­i­cally pop­u­lar, but en­abling il­le­gal im­mi­grants to bring their en­tire extended fam­i­lies into the coun­try cer­tainly is not.

“It’s im­pos­si­ble to tell where the pres­i­dent really stands,” said Mar­garet Hart­mann in NYMag.com. Trump has gone from de­mo­niz­ing im­mi­grants to crow­ing about how much com­pas­sion he has for Dream­ers, back to threat­en­ing to throw them all out if he doesn’t get his wall. Even now, the White House won’t say whether it will veto a bill that doesn’t in­clude its many de­mands. How ex­actly is Congress sup­posed to craft a deal? As we wait to find out, Trump “need­lessly toys” with the fate of young im­mi­grants try­ing to make a life here.

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