Barrone: Can Trump and Democrats make a deal on immigration?


Can President Donald Trump and the Republican-majority Congress make a deal? That’s a question raised by the announcement that the Trump administration will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in six months.

DACA, put in place by the Obama administration, provided protection from deportation to immigrants who entered the United States illegally as children and who didn’t have serious criminal records and were working or in school or the military.

Trump is on strong legal ground. Barack Obama established DACA in 2012, even though, as he had earlier explained, the Constitution gives Congress, not the president, the authority to set policy on immigration and naturalization.

Moreover, Obama’s 2014 Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, which would have given protection to some 4 million parents of legal residents, was ruled invalid by federal courts. Ten state attorneys general have been threatening to challenge DACA on identical grounds.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is thus right when he says that DACA could be overturned by the courts, leaving the 800,000 young people currently covered with no protection. They may be better off with Trump’s order leaving DACA in place for six months than they would be then.

Though DACA is, as Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein agreed, “on shaky legal ground,” the political case for the policy is strong. Polls show large majorities in favor because they agree with what Trump said in his written statement: “I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents.”

Trump has made clear that he would support a legislative version of DACA — and it could get majority support in both houses of Congress. But because some Republicans, such as Rep. Steve King, are opposed, any bill must be a bipartisan compromise. That means that Democrats will have to make concessions to get the issue on the congressional calendar.

The late Sen. Edward Kennedy was particularly expert in fashioning bipartisan compromises. He would accept provisions he didn’t like in return for others he favored and thought more important. He would oppose as “poison pills” amendments he personally supported but believed would cost a bill needed Republican votes. One such poison pill did pass, with the help of the vote of then-Sen. Obama, and torpedoed the 2007 comprehensive immigration bill, which would have been signed by Bush.

Ten years later, the facts and opinion on immigration have changed. One possible path forward was suggested by Sen. Tom Cotton, co-sponsor of a different comprehensive immigration bill supported by Trump. Giving young people who violated the law — even if it was through no fault of their own — legal status would have “negative consequences,” Cotton argues, opening up chain migration of low-skilled collateral relatives and incentivizing others to bring children in illegally. So a bill to replace DACA, he says, should be accompanied with limits on extended family unification migration and with “enhanced enforcement measures,” such as mandatory E-Verify.

Such provisions will most likely be opposed by the lobbies whose ultimate goal has been giving legal status to almost all of the 11 million immigrants here illegally, a measure that was part of the 2007 and 2013 comprehensive bills. But Democrats may have to accept them to help the dreamers.

Much will depend on the deal-making skill of the president and congressional leaders. Will they measure up to the standard set by Ted Kennedy?

Barone is a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

From print to e-books, sadly but inevitably

I’ve got cards from four libraries but haven’t checked a book out in a year. Which is strange, because I came from a printing/publishing family, worked part-time in school libraries during college, and can read. What happened? One hyphenated pseudo-word, “e-books.” I still like the look and feel of print books and the smell...
Cruelty, incompetence and lies

Graham-Cassidy, the health bill the Senate may vote on next week, is stunningly cruel. It’s also incompetently drafted: The bill’s sponsors clearly had no idea what they were doing when they put it together. Furthermore, their efforts to sell the bill involve obvious, blatant lies. Nonetheless, the bill could pass. The Affordable Care Act...
Politicking in Ohio is about deals, not ideals

In about 60 weeks, Ohio will elect its next governor. Between now and then, you’ll hear a lot about programs, platforms – and “philosophy.” In terms of Ohio politics, those big words mean exactly nothing. Politicking in Ohio isn’t about ideals. It’s about deals: Who gets what, and how, and when. The successful candidate...
Opinion: The steep cost of cheap speech

WASHINGTON — At this shank end of a summer that a calmer America someday will remember with embarrassment, you must remember this: In the population of 325 million, a small sliver crouches on the wilder shores of politics, another sliver lives in the dark forest of mental disorder, and there is a substantial overlap between these slivers. At...
Working from the ground up to get rid of ‘food deserts’
Working from the ground up to get rid of ‘food deserts’

Q: What is the Gem City Market project all about? Klein: The Gem City Market will be a vibrant worker- and community-owned full-service grocery store on lower Salem Avenue, just across the river from downtown Dayton. The incubation of the market has been a community-driven effort aimed at addressing the needs of Daytonians who live in what the United...
More Stories