It now appears that Republicans and Democrats are at an impasse over illegal immigration. Again.
On the one side, the White House has now forcefully rejected the so-called Graham-Durbin bill, which would grant some $2.7 billion in border security funding in return for legalizing the DREAMers. White House spokesman Hogan Gidley called the proposal “completely dishonest.”
On the other side, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced that he had withdrawn his offer of $1.6 billion in funding for President Trump’s desired border wall in exchange for legalization of the so-called DREAMers.
Yet both sides maintain that a deal is in the offing. Schumer says that he caved on the government shutdown over President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program because he received a commitment from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to grant a vote on an immigration package; McConnell says he would have an “immigration debate.” The Trump administration continues to state that they hope a deal will be forthcoming before March 5, when DACA status expires for those who have not registered or re-registered with the government.
But there’s no real interest on any side for a deal.
Democrats have no interest in a deal because they want to use the DREAMers as a political football — they want Trump to start deporting them en masse, thereby driving Democratic voters to the polls in 2018. If Democrats were to truly compromise, ending chain migration and the diversity visa lottery in exchange for legalization for the DREAMers, they’d not only be sacrificing a political win for themselves, they’d also be curbing illegal immigration, a reliable source of new Democratic voters over time.
Meanwhile, Republicans have no interest in a deal, because they don’t want to cave on illegal immigration — and also because they figure that President Trump can always muddle through by simply refusing to enforce the immigration law de facto just as President Obama did de jure. Trump has already hinted he’d do as much back in September:
Critics say that Trump can’t reinstate a program he’s already declared unconstitutional. That’s untrue — Obama himself declared DACA unconstitutional and then did it. But even if Trump doesn’t reinstate DACA, that doesn’t mean he will start deportations.
Which means that nobody is feeling particularly pressured right now. Democrats can pretend they stand with the DREAMers even if they do nothing for them; Republicans can stand for border security even without making a deal with Democrats; DREAMers likely aren’t going anywhere regardless. And so look for this muddle to continue without end.