Word out of Washington is that even with a deadline approaching, Congress does not appear close to producing legislation to address the so-called Dreamers. Word out of the mainstream media is that this is all the fault of Republicans and/or President Trump.
Trump has said since he canceled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – or DACA – program in the summer that this was not a matter for presidents to take into their own hands, but one Congress should consider.
He laid out a framework for what a deal could look like and provided a March deadline after which the first of the Dreamers would start to lose their temporary status.
“The problem,” according to Paul Waldman at the Washington Post, is that “there are just too many points at which a deal can be shot down, and not enough reason for Republicans to feel as if they have no choice but to come to an agreement.”
Waldman then laid out what he considered “the critical factors determining the outcome of this debate.”
Democrats “care a great deal about the dreamers. Republicans, on the other hand, have some sympathy for the dreamers, but it wouldn’t really bother them that much to see them deported.”
Only, when Democrats controlled the House, the Senate – with a filibuster-proof majority and the White House from 2009-2012 – they did nothing to address the dreamers.
But now it is Republicans, he says, who are in an advantageous position “since they can live with the status quo” and “Democrats would see the lack of a deal as a catastrophe.”
But Democrats are the ones objecting to offering any semblance of legislation that might achieve compromise. They refuse to offer any funding for the wall or to revisit the visa lottery system or emphasizing skilled labor.
Republicans have time on their side, Waldman said. They can wait a year or more to start on the wall, but on the fate of the dreamers, which could have been addressed without a single Democratic vote from 2009-2012 but which never came up for a vote, “there is a great deal more urgency.”
There would be no crisis if Trump had not canceled the program, Waldman said, even though it was temporary and outside the scope of decisions Trump thought presidents should make on their own.
“Over the next few months, eligible individuals who do not present a risk to national security or public safety will be able to request temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work authorization,” Obama said in introducing DACA.
“Now, let’s be clear – this is not amnesty; this is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix. This is a temporary stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people.”
Waldman acknowledged that Trump said he is eager to sign an immigration deal, and he acknowledged that Democrats can’t force a better deal by closing down the government.
“You can call them spineless cowards if you want,” Waldman wrote, assuming many in his audience had that in mind. “But if you’re going to advocate a shutdown in order to achieve a particular goal, you have to have a plausible theory of how the shutdown will achieve that goal. If the theory is that Republicans will eventually cave in and give Democrats whatever they want because the shutdown is too painful, you need a new theory.”