Why Immigration Hawks Shouldn’t Be Worried (Yet) About Trump Surrendering On DACA
President Trump caused worry among some of his supporters Tuesday with comments he made during a meeting with congressional leaders on a legislative fix to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Trump called possible legislation on DACA a “bill of love” — echoing rhetoric commonly deployed by pro-amnesty lobbyists — and told Democrats he was open to a clean bill legalizing illegal aliens who came to the U.S. as minors without any concessions to his demands.
The president had to be reminded by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy that bolstering border security must be part of any possible DACA deal. Trump appeared to agree with that.
“A clean DACA bill, to me, is a DACA bill where we take care of the 800,000 people,” he said at one point in front of the cameras. “We take care of them and we also take care of security. That’s very important.”
Trump reiterated this statement Tuesday night in a tweet, saying, “As I made very clear today, our country needs the security of the Wall on the Southern Border, which must be part of any DACA approval.”
Apparently left out are the president’s other demands of ending chain migration, eliminating the diversity visa lottery program and mandating e-verify.
It is also not clear if his comments indicate a full commitment to wall funding, or just to a token amount of additional funding for border security.
Fortunately for Trump supporters who worry about the president caving in on amnesty for little in return, all the White House announced Tuesday is that Republicans and Democrats agreed to negotiate over a DACA deal.
No concrete DACA deal has been reached and anything can happen with the negotiations going forward. But there’s a good reason why Ann Coulter, Tucker Carlson and others are taking a grim view of the whole process.
“When Kevin McCarthy is the hardliner on immigration in the room, I think we can call this the lowest day in the Trump presidency,” Coulter told Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tuesday night.
While there several legitimate concerns Trump may sell out his earliest supporters in order to get a few bits of lukewarm praise from liberal reporters, there are a lot of things to take into consideration that make it seem it won’t happen.
For one, Trump has on numerous occasions sounded squishy on immigration, yet quickly returned to his hawkish stance. It happened during his presidential run, and it happened earlier in DACA talks as well.
In September, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi were confident they had a deal with Trump on giving the so-called Dreamers amnesty that would greatly favor Democrats. Then in October, Trump announced his demands for DACA that included funding for the wall and ending chain migration, which Schumer and Pelosi both denounced.
Trump’s words about a “bill of love” and apparent support for a clean amnesty may have just been him rambling and not a sign he was conceding on his demands.
While Coulter sees McCarthy apparently being tougher on Trump in the immigration negotiations as a bad thing, it’s actually a good thing that Republican leaders are sticking to the president’s demands. Prior to Trump, it wouldn’t have been expected for the GOP establishment to give amnesty to Dreamers with no strings attached.
Now they’re at least cognizant that it would be a bamboozle to do so and are pushing a strong line on getting concessions from Democrats. Additionally, according to McCarthy, congressional Republicans are seeking to separate DACA legislation from an upcoming, must-pass spending bill. Doing so would better the chances of Trump getting his demands out of Democrats, as the fear of a government shutdown is taken out of the equation.
Another good point for Trumpists to remember is that the president’s point man on DACA is the immigration hawk Stephen Miller. Miller has managed to survive the intense palace intrigue in the White House and rise in influence in order to have a restrictionist impact on immigration.
Miller is a very smart guy, and he realizes all of his hard work and compromises comes down to him convincing the president to not give away DACA for peanuts. Otherwise, all that work was for nothing.
The White House adviser was the main reason Trump did not capitulate in the fall on DACA and issued his strong demands. There’s a good chance Miller will come through again for immigration hawks.
The Fox News commentators Trump watches on a daily basis are going to turn on him if he surrenders on DACA. Already, Tucker and others are sounding the alarm on the president’s DACA comments. Talk radio will also not give Trump a pass on this. (RELATED: After DACA Comments, Tucker Tells Trump: ‘What Was The Point Of Running For President?’)
These outlets are where Trump’s base gets their information from, and the base is not going to be pleased if illegals get permanent legalization but America gets no wall.
There truly is no rational reason for Trump to capitulate on DACA other than him getting tricked into thinking that doing so will mean more Hispanics vote for him (spoiler: they won’t).
It isn’t all doom and gloom for immigration hawks yet when it comes to this matter, for the reasons stated above. The chances are still good that no DACA deal is reached unless Democrats agree to all of Trump’s demands. Anything less is a giveaway for Republicans, and at the same time, Democrats don’t want to risk leaving the Dreamers open to deportation starting March 5.
Trump should be aware that he won’t gain anything by being weak on DACA. He won’t win any votes, he won’t earn any goodwill for other agenda items, he won’t get his immigration reforms and he won’t get a wall.
DACA is a prime bargaining chip. The guy who wrote “The Art of the Deal” should know how to get something for it.
Follow Scott on Twitter and buy his new book, “No Campus for White Men.”