In a news conference on Wednesday, President Trump appeared to go further than ever before in signaling the potential for complete and total amnesty for the illegal immigrants known politically as “Dreamers.” With Democrats on the ropes after the failed, embarrassing shutdown stunt, President Trump is seemingly sliding back from some of his core campaign promises – including the one in which he told voters that until we’d eliminated any and all illegal immigration to this country, there would be NO amnesty for immigrants already here.
“We’re going to morph into it,” Trump said of Dreamers obtaining citizenship. “It’s going to happen, at some point in the future, over a period of 10 to 12 years. Over a period of 10 to 12 years, somebody does a great job, they work hard — that gives incentive to do a great job. Whatever they’re doing, if they do a great job, I think it’s a nice thing to have the incentive of, after a period of years, being able to become a citizen.”
If Trump’s supporters have been recently wary about the president’s commitment to ending illegal immigration, these remarks will do little to ease their concerns. There was no talk of a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants on the 2016 campaign trail; Trump’s hardline approach to this issue was precisely what set him apart from the other Republicans on the dais. And while the president has positioned himself as a master negotiator and has made it clear that his campaign promises were meant to be taken as “starting offers,” we don’t blame anyone who fears that we’re about to get routed on one of Trump’s core platform issues.
Assuming that Trump was serious and not just idly running his mouth (as he admittedly sometimes does), what would Democrats have to give up to make this deal worth it? Is there anything that would rise to that level? Full funding for the wall? An end to chain migration? On this point, Trump also signaled that he would be willing to keep the family reunification policy open to spouses. Exactly what can we expect to get when all is said and done? Are we on the road to a truly new era when it comes to stopping illegal immigration…or has it all been a system of smoke and mirrors that will allow the Establishment to keep changing this country into something unrecognizable?
The sad truth is that we have no choice but to stay optimistic; whatever deal Trump gets us is going to be the best one we could have ever possibly hoped for. We may come away disappointed in the end, but we have to stay on the firm ground of realism. It does no good to keep dreaming of an imaginary future where there is no amnesty and illegal immigration comes to a total end; that may have never been anything more than a fantasy, given the political realities. At the end of the day, we’re moving closer to an ideal situation, even if it’s not as close as we might have liked. It may feel good to be a purist, but let’s not fall into the left’s “utopia” trap.
Better than nothing is, in fact, better than nothing.