Jim Newell reports for Slate:
“First and foremost,” Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the committee, said in his opening remarks, “any potential deal on DACA has to include robust border security, and by that, I don’t mean a wall.”
This was the quote that garnered the most coverage and inspired some optimistic tea leaf reading. If congressional Republicans weren’t going to insist on a border wall as part of a deal to protect Dreamers, as per the “deal” Democratic leaders struck with President Trump last month, then a Dreamer-saving compromise would be much more assured.
But the wall isn’t shaping up to be the problem. The problem is what Grassley brought up a few seconds later.
“Second, and equally as important as robust border security,” he said, “we’ve got to make sure any deal includes meaningful interior enforcement.”
This is a development that Dreamers themselves have been concerned about since Democrats announced they would engage with the president to find a replacement for DACA. As the New York Times reported over the weekend, Dreamers fear that their “own long-term safety might be secured only in exchange for an increased threat of deportation for their undocumented parents and friends who do not qualify for such protections under the program.” The latest version of the DREAM Act could secure green cards for 1.5 million people. But if such a deal increases the likelihood of deportation for the vast majority of the nation’s roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants, it’s not exactly a feel-good trade.
The problem with making any handshake agreement with Trump, as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer did last month, is that he will most likely change his mind once he finds himself in a roomful of different people with different demands. That meeting took place Monday night, when Trump hosted a dinner with congressional Republicans who expect much more out of a DACA deal. Trump surely wanted to win that room, too.
The agreement Trump made with Schumer and Pelosi—so they thought—would have been to pass the DREAM Act in exchange for non-wall border security measures. You know, drones and lasers and radar gizmos and stuff. But according to Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, an immigration hawk who was at the dinner on Monday night, “the president was very clear” that any deal should only pertain to those Dreamers who “have a DACA permit today,” a significantly lower number than the amount that would be covered under the DREAM Act, and that “it ought to include some kind of enhanced measures, whether it’s on the border or interior enforcement or what have you.” As Georgia Sen. David Perdue, a fellow immigration hawk who’s co-sponsored a bill with Cotton to reduce legal immigration, told me Tuesday, it was clear that any Dreamer deal he’d be willing to support would encompass “enforcement” on both the border and the interior.
Ratcheting up the deportation apparatus to a new level is not what congressional Democrats signed up for when they engaged President Trump in finding a DACA replacement.
Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy told me Tuesday that an insistence on ramped-up interior enforcement would be “a problem” for his caucus. “I’m not sure that you can get much tougher interior enforcement than you have today,” he said, “as we’re watching pretty arbitrary deportations happen all across our country.” When I asked Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono what would constitute a bridge too far for Democrats, she said any give-and-take needs to be kept “in proportion.” As she pointed out, Republicans are starting to ask for all of the border security and interior enforcement measures included in the failed 2013 comprehensive immigration bill, in exchange for far fewer of that bill’s protections for undocumented immigrants. “I think, as [Illinois Democratic Sen.] Dick Durbin says, that is way too much,” Hirono told me.”
Read the full article at the link.
Dreamer relief should be a “no-brainer.” But, the GOP appears to be looking for ways to “tank” it, perhaps because Trump had the audacity to speak to the Dems first. Also, the GOP’s restrictionist views are out of line with the majority of Americans and with nearly all credible immigration experts. Yet, the minority restrictionist position is immensely popular with the GOP’s White Nationalist, xenophobic, racist “base.” And today’s GOP is so beholden to that base that they won’t work with the Dems on reasonable immigration proposals.
If anything should be clear at this point it’s that giving DHS more enforcement personnel at present is close to insane. The waste, incompetence, and gratuitous cruelty in the current DHS enforcement operations are astounding. Until existing personnel are used and deployed in a rational, efficient, and honest manner, there is simply no case for more.
Don’t know how this will come out. Perhaps, the parties are just jockeying for position and playing to their respective bases. But, it could turn ugly for both the Dreamers and for America.