Now how about a big, bold immigration plan?
Don’t get us wrong. We love infrastructure spending. It’s badly needed. Things are falling apart. It’ll give Americans new airports and bridges and smoother highways. Better water treatment, better broadband access, better power grid. It’ll create jobs. And it can probably only happen in the scale being discussed under a Republican president, because under a Democrat, Republicans in Congress will all of a sudden start getting all fussy about deficit spending again.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pegs the target at $2-trillion, over 25-years. And he says Trump insisted on that number. (It’s not clear if this is meant to be direct investment by the government, or a rekindling of the concept of public-private partnerships, where government spends significantly less, and instead incentivizes local governments to build partnerships with private business, which is where most of the money would come in). Anyway, here’s how Schumer describes it:
So, O.K. Get to it.
But what about cooperating on immigration? Even though they haven’t managed to pass anything comprehensive, many Republicans and Democrats over the past couple of decades, have not really been that far apart. (The fight over whether we need wall or not aside.) Except for a few individuals with extreme views, who unfortunately include the President.
But Trump has this ever-growing list of crazy demands, right? Guess what? Democrats would probably go for almost all of them if they are balanced against programs that grant undocumented immigrants in this country a path to citizenship. Especially those who came here as children, have lived here virtually all their lives, and have played by all the rules the U.S. government set out for them. Or those who escaped to the U.S. after a natural or political disaster in their country of origin.
You know, a compromise. Like they’re talking about on infrastructure. Except less nebulous. And more immediately critical.
How do we know Democrats would probably endorse hiring a lot more border agents, a lot more judges, and giving customs officers the ability to make determinations that are now made by judges so immigrants didn’t have to wait around for a trial, if it was part of a broad compromise? Because it was, and they did. And a lot of Republicans did too. (The idea Trump floated this week of filing fees for asylum-seekers is not included but we think could probably be negotiated away, under normal circumstances.)
Almost exactly 6 years ago a bipartisan immigration bill flew through the Senate. And it included most of what Trump wants. But also a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the country. A lot of Republicans supported it. Trump’s pal Lindsey Graham co-sponsored it. Before that, President George W. Bush came close (less close, but still close) shepherding a similar bipartisan bill, (also with Graham’s direct involvement)
So why couldn’t that happen again? Except pass it this time:
- Especially since the reason the legislation died last time around is it was killed by ultra-Conservatives in the House getting up in arms about “amnesty”. But now Democrats are in control of the House, so that shouldn’t matter anymore, right?
- Especially since it’s such a priority for the President.
There’s a wide open opportunity to do a landmark bipartisan deal that a lot of people have tried to do, but ultimately failed. So if Trump could pull it off, he’d look great, no? But it just ain’t gonna happen. Why?
- Because Trump’s too dug in.
- Because he’ll never do anything to upset his base even a little. While he seems to be all about “big and bold”, he’ll never do anything “big and bold” that risks losing the unyielding loyalty of his die-hard fans.
- Because Trump’s in lockstep with those anti-immigration Republicans who blocked it last time. And one of their former minions, White House Senior Policy Advisor Stephen Miller is Trump’s Immigration architect.
As a result, Trump’s overtures to Democrats are more along the lines of do it my way or else, as exemplified by this Tweet:
(Of course, Trump had a Republican majority in the House and Senate for two years, but they prioritized killing Obamacare (which they didn’t), and giving wealthy people and corporations trillion-dollar plus tax breaks (which they did), over this, apparently.)