Last September, President Donald Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy, and the Democratic Party went into full hyperventilation mode — as if Trump had rescinded oxygen.
The Democrats fired out an all-caps email blast saying: “ON TUESDAY, DONALD TRUMP SECURED HIS LEGACY AS A CHAMPION OF CRUELTY.” Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez emailed that the decision was “morally repugnant” and “rooted in prejudice.” And Deputy Chair Keith Ellison—not to be outdone with hyperbole — compared it to handing over Jews to the Nazis.
Basically, from the Democrats’ point of view, Trump was Skeletor, Cobra Commander, and Hitler all rolled into one on that day.
Yet, a few short months later, the Democrats seem unwilling to give an inch on border security to save DACA recipients. The bipartisan deal presented to President Trump offered only about one-eighth of the border security funding he requested, which prompted him to tweet: “I don’t believe the Democrats really want to see a deal on DACA” and “DACA is probably dead because the Democrats don’t really want it.”
The President is 100 percent correct.
Democrats framed DACA as a matter of basic morality, and they’ve said over and over that everyone is for securing the border. They’re being offered everything they want. Everything!
The deal should be a no-brainer, so why are the Democrats dragging their feet and causing Presidential Twitter storms?
The answer is simple.
For Congressional Democrats and the party establishment, the political cost of a DACA compromise is too steep:
1. A compromise allows President Trump and two Republican majority houses of Congress to fulfill the Dreamers’ dream. How can Democrats allow that to happen when they’ve gone all-in on a theory of identity politics that portrays Republicans as mustache-twisting villains who only care about tying minority groups to the train tracks? They need DACA to be a Democrat win, and that won’t happen if there’s a compromise.
2. A compromise will prove that Donald Trump really is the dealmaker that he campaigned as. President Obama had to act unilaterally (and almost certainly illegally) in order to help the Dreamers because he and the Democrats weren’t willing to compromise with Congressional Republicans.
3. A compromise will allow President Trump to fulfill — in bipartisan fashion — the signature promise of his campaign: a big, beautiful border wall. They said it was an impossible, ridiculous, unfulfillable promise. The rantings of a madman! Red meat tossed to the rabid base of the base of the base of the extreme right wing. How will it look when Democrats vote to fund the wholly realistic, compromised version of the wall?
4. A compromise will give President Trump another legislative victory in a very young presidency. Three months ago, headline after headline ridiculed President Trump as ineffective. Now, he’s tackled major tax reform and repealed Obamacare’s individual mandate. The Democratic elites are scared to death of the prospect that he could turn around and add a border wall and permanent DACA protection to his list of accomplishments.
5. A compromise would take away an issue that Democrats want to run on in 2018. On the Republican side, there’s a mistaken belief that Democrats want a DACA deal because they desperately need the new voters it would produce, but that’s erroneous. There are only about 690,000 DACA recipients nationwide. Take away the percentage who won’t show up to the polls, take away the percentage who live in 80-20 Democrat districts, take away the percentage who will vote Republican, and you aren’t left with anything resembling an electorate swinging voting bloc. In fact, Democratic voters mobilized primarily by the DACA issue profoundly outnumber what the party would gain in new DACA voters.
6. Border security hurts the Democratic Party. It’s true that Democrats see illegal immigrants entering the country as a great bloc of potential, someday voters; we need no ghost come from the grave to tell us that. But many people don’t know that every 711,000 illegal immigrants who cross the border create a new congressional district that, due to the Permanent Apportionment Act which limits the House of Representatives to 435 seats, is taken away from another state. As an unintended effect of the 14th amendment, each person — whether they’re here legally or illegally — must be counted as a whole person. “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state…” That includes illegal immigrants and nothing short of a Constitutional amendment can change it.
Before the Civil War, southern states were overrepresented because they counted slaves (who were denied the right to vote) as three-fifths of a person toward congressional representation. Today, California is overrepresented because millions of illegal immigrants who cannot vote are counted toward their population. Trump’s border security measures would slow down a process that essentially allows a state like California with an ever-growing population of illegal immigrants to steal House seats (and consequently electoral votes) from other states.
Democrats are going to fight for a “clean” DACA bill sans border security measures — even if it means shutting down the government instead of compromising — because of the political calculus. Why else would the minority party refuse a compromise which gives them everything they’ve been screaming for? For Democrats, the DACA compromise is not about immigration, morality, or Dreamers. It is about the political costs of real border security which far outweigh the political benefits of helping President Trump pass DACA legislation.
Eddie Zipperer is a political science professor at Georgia Military College.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.