DACA: Will Timid GOPers Be The Leverage Dems Need To Keep The Status Quo?

REUTERS/John Gastaldo

Michael Grimm Former Congressman
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Let there be no mistake – for Democrats, immigration is the gift that keeps on giving. It behooves their political interest to maintain a broken system as a wedge issue in every election for the foreseeable future, as it has been for decades. With some Republicans surrendering before the fight has begun, they have potentially snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and ceded the high ground, despite a clear mandate from the American people. Surely, with some Republicans requesting DACA be maintained as-is and co-sponsoring the BRIDGE and RAC Acts, the Dems claim to bipartisanship will be echoing throughout the media echo chamber as they push for amnesty with not even a whiff of Trump’s wall and border security attached.

Implementing DACA in 2012 was an act of true cunning. More than anything, it let President Obama reap the political benefits of single-handedly protecting hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from deportation. No matter that protection was on flimsy legal footing and at the expense of a larger reform deal. The benefits were enormous, and Obama went for them.

Fast forward five years, and even as some Republicans in Congress plead with President Trump to keep Obama’s power-grab in place, the administration clearly sees that the status quo is untenable. Now, as Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions made clear, it is up to our bold Members of Congress to put words into action and achieve a grand bargain to fix the immigration system – or else!

What some of our more timid legislators don’t understand is that all the leverage for negotiating a responsible immigration reform deal lies in the “or else.” The six-month window President Trump announced is a ticking clock that allows conservatives to demand any kind of reprieve or eventual path to citizenship be tied to a firm plan on border security, wall funding, and revamped legal immigration criteria.

But what do some of our Republican representatives do instead? They appear on left-wing television programs calling for passage of the BRIDGE Act, an extension of Obama’s DACA program for three more years, or the RAC Act – full-fledged amnesty plain and simple. In neither instance would the giveaway be tied to any kind of commitment to prioritize border security or fix the immigration system as a whole. However, now that the spotlight is shining on the subject so brightly, many have become scared of conservative groups’ backlash and potential primaries, so they bring out the double-speak. These timid Members know they are out in front of their skis, so in desperation they add border security and broken-system rhetoric, to cover their true liberal colors. In other words – what we’re seeing is political cowardice.

At the same time, the impressive efforts of these Republicans to distance themselves from their own voters’ concerns provide the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer with powerful leverage they have no right having. Republicans fighting for DACA and offering amnesty with no strings attached are committing political malpractice, allowing liberals to claim the mantle of bipartisanship while legislating an Obama-era wish-list.

The 2016 election provided us with an incredible opportunity. In electing Donald Trump and giving him a Republican-majority Congress to work with, American voters made it clear they want to see the government consider America first, whether it be on immigration, foreign policy, or trade. Trump ran on that promise and it connected viscerally with voters across the spectrum. Republican legislators abandoning it are committing an extraordinary betrayal, and one their own voters will not easily forget.