Immigration Negotiations Have Gone Off the Deep End

Anik Rahman/NurPhoto via ZUMA

Let’s talk immigration for a bit. It’s gone completely cuckoo. I realize that this is all due to politics of various stripes, but let’s stop for a minute and look just at the policy.

It all started when President Trump killed DACA, the mini-DREAM executive order that allows individuals who were brought to the country at a young age to apply for work permits and protection from deportation. Trump revoked it because it was an Obama policy and he’s dedicated to destroying all things Obama, but he took care to delay the end of DACA for six months so that Congress would have time to reinstate it via legislation, something he said he favored.

That sounds simple enough. Democrats are more eager to restore DACA than Republicans, which means they needed to offer something in return. How about funding for Trump’s wall? Even among Republicans, a recent poll shows that 53 percent support DACA and 62 percent support a deal that includes both DACA and the wall. Then Democrats went further: they offered the wall plus preventing chain migration among the DREAMers by making their parents ineligible for citizenship plus an end to the visa lottery. But apparently that’s still not enough.

Which is crazy. This was never meant to be a deal for comprehensive immigration reform. It’s a narrow agreement to keep DACA in place, something that both Trump and many Republicans say they want to do anyway. The deal Democrats offered would be hugely popular among Republicans; it would give Trump a start on his wall; and it would prevent a government shutdown, which would probably be blamed on Republicans no matter how many manic tweets Trump sends out.

In other words, everyone has a strong incentive to ignore the hardliners and do this. Republicans like it. Democrats like it. It avoids a shutdown. Are the immigration hardliners really so powerful that they can kill off a deal that has practically everything going for it? Is Trump really so unnerved by a bit of mockery that the dealmaker-in-chief is going to let this deal sink? The whole thing is crazy.