When Congress returns to Washington this week, the debate over DACA is likely to stage center stage.
In a more ideal world, this would be a golden opportunity for the Republicans to really stick it to the Democrats. There literally is nothing to lose by going to the mattresses over this issue, which involves the legal status of some 800,000 – 1.5 million illegal immigrants. When Donald Trump won the Republican nomination and the election, there could no longer be any doubt as to where conservative America stands on this issue. The people have spoken, and they didn’t say anything about any goddamn amnesty.
Alas, we don’t live in that world, so we don’t expect to see Republicans force Democrats into a corner. This could have been an epic showdown where we could have gotten an enormous increase in border security, including the money to pay for (at least) the beginning stages of wall construction. We could have gotten the Democrats to vote for an end to the Diversity Lottery Program, an end to chain migration privileges…or just have them vote for the RAISE Act, which covers both and more. We could have put a serious dent in illegal immigration for the token price of less than a million already-vetted immigrants. But no, we won’t get much of that because Republicans are soft.
In fairness, this isn’t a case where we can yell, “Hey turkeys, you need to take your cues from the president!” Because Trump himself has been weak on this issue and we still can’t figure out why. If we were to take a stab at a guess, we’d say the reason begins with “I” and ends with “A” and has a “vank” in the middle, but who knows. Maybe he really does think we need to let the Dreamers stay. God only knows why. To be clear, we’re not necessarily saying we want to see ICE go around and throw college graduates and productive members of society into deportation vans tomorrow, regardless of their immigration status. But if we’re going to actually declare them legal residents, we need to be getting something damn good in return. Will we?
We’re holding out hope. Some conservatives are actually talking a good game about the upcoming fight. And Democrats seem like they want to dig their heels in on this one, so they may very well get to March without any deal at all unless they buckle bigtime. They are making a HUGE mistake if they plant their flag on this issue, because there is NO political value to a pro-illegal immigrant stance outside of a certain portion of the Hispanic community – a portion the Democrats already have locked up tight. But we’ll see. This will an interesting test for both parties and the president. Voters are watching.