Let me first say: Trump supporters who are unhappy with his decision to put off his trademarked border wall, I understand your fury. When you make something the centerpiece of your campaign platform and treat the issue as a foregone conclusion, supporters are well within their rights to complain when you seemingly put it on the back burner. When you examine the politics and specifics of Trump’s decision, and keep in mind his vow to push for funding of some form of border wall in the near future, the deal looks less like capitulation. In fact, it seems more like a savvy political move that puts the onus on Democrats to reciprocate his good faith.
It is already clear that Trump and Democratic leadership are at odds with respect to the next step for so-called ‘Dreamers.' Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi have indicated that they will push for the passage of a bill put forth by Democratic Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard. The bill would allow for a direct path to permanent resident status for Dreamers. The President has indicated that he would not support a guaranteed path to amnesty, only promising not to deport these children who, as he says, were brought to the country through no decision of their own.
He has made clear that legal protection does not mean permanent residency, saying "We are not looking at citizenship. We are not looking at amnesty." So, further legal battles remain, even though the President, Pelosi, and Schumer have all said that Dreamers are safe to stay. Under what capacity they will stay remains to be seen.
Details aside, many see this agreement between Trump and the opposition party as most significant in its symbolism. The past eight years were marked by gridlock that, in most conservatives’ opinion, was primarily driven by the past president’s unwillingness to compromise. This obstinance in terms of giving up any ground to the other party was largely a feature of Obama’s policies which were considered radical to begin with. Even changing some feature of Obamacare would likely not have changed Republicans’ likelihood of voting in its favor. But still, the President was rarely willing to cede much, even on less left-leaning bills.
President Trump is trying to establish the dynamic of compromise that has been long-lacking in American politics, and he is willing to take flak from his own party in leading the way. It takes courage to go on your own politically, and assuming that he maintains his major campaign promises– not doing so would likely be a politically suicidal move– appeasing Democrats on issues of little consequence could be a brilliant move.
After all, the Dreamers were going to stay regardless. Insisting on their ouster would yet again be used to vilify conservatives as kid-haters. It wouldn’t be fair, but that’s what would happen. The party cannot cave from fear of the characterizations of the left, but they must pick their battles wisely, and deporting Dreamers would not have been a wise battle in any respect. If the number of approximately 800,000 Dreamers is correct, they play a fairly insignificant role in the American political landscape.
It is pretty easy to argue that Trump’s decision to allow Dreamers to stay was the right one. It is clear: he is interested in bipartisan solutions. Now, it is on Democrats to show that they are interested in a similar approach.
Don’t hold your breath, you’ll never make it. Trump is giving Democrats what they want, and they will gladly take it. Theoretically, Democrats should be happy with this decision. If, as they have repeatedly stated, they are only interested in the safety of the Dreamers from deportation, they would be willing to agree to some form green card or visa. Yet, as they have indicated, Democrats will push for permanent residency.
There is no logical reason why Democrats should push so hard for permanent residency over, say, green card status. Green card holders are permanent, face no threat of deportation, and can use legal means to become voting, tax-paying citizens without having to leave the country.
But Democrats don’t want Dreamers to have to wait on legal means to voting. They want them to vote, and they want them to vote in 2020. Obviously, they want and are banking on them voting Democrat. If Democrats’ idealized vision were true, it would also further cement the Hispanic vote, as the Democrats would be seen as champions of the beleaguered Latino.
Yes, it is fair to be that cynical. That is how Schumer, and to a lesser extent Pelosi, think. They are political-minded, and in the case of pushing for full-time residency for Dreamers, it is the only possible explanation.
Trump knows this, and he has indicated that he will not be granting the Democrats’ wishes as far as immediate permanent residency. He’s enacted the first step toward compromise, and it is now on the Democrats to put politics aside and accept true compromise. But it won’t be easy for them. They haven’t compromised in the past eight years, and disagreeing with Donald Trump has become the party platform.
Democrats would be wise to ask themselves a rhetorical question, one once asked by the scholar Rodney King: can’t we all get along?