Democratic leaders in Congress have been rightly criticized for “caving in” to Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans during the three-day government shutdown without any real concessions on DACA. Look, since anti-nonwhite immigrant fanatics Jeff Sessions and Steven Miller “reminded” Trump on the reasons he was actually elected, and DACA was rescinded on September 5 of last year, Trump has been positively schizophrenic on the subject. One day he seems “empathetic, “ but far more often he is back to equating “Dreamers” with murderers, rapists and perpetrators of drug violence (note that in the last several days there has been at least two more mass shootings—by white Americans). Instead of acknowledging his error in making deliberately racist and ignorant attacks on nonwhite immigrants (from “shithole” countries), he and his henchmen and henchwomen deny even making the reference, and then Trump tweets about how DACA recipients are so dangerous that they threaten our “great military.”
Meanwhile, Trump is once more engaging in what he calls “bi-partisan” talks. No, he doesn’t want to talk to Dick Durbin again, who called him out on his and his cronies’ racism, or Lindsey Graham, who called Trump’s insistence on “merit-based” immigration flawed and bigoted because it assumes that immigrants who work on farms and in construction have no “merit.” No, his idea of finding a “bi-partisan” solution to DACA is to first have a meeting with hardline anti-immigrant Republicans, and then a second meeting with two Democrats from Deep South states he apparently believes will be more “amenable” to a hardline “solution”—as if just simple Congressional approval of DACA is that “hard” to do. After all, there are approximately 1.5 million South and East Asian “guest workers” and “visitors” currently with expired visas in the country (thus illegally), and neither Trump or any Republican seem to think that is a particular “problem” that needs addressed.
But Trump and his handpicked “team” of Senators are not the only roadblock to immigration reform. There is definitely a need for reform, especially one that recognizes that this country also needs so-called “low-skill” workers in industries (like agriculture, forestry and construction) that have been difficult to fill, and immigrants tend to be more willing to move to where the jobs are rather than just sit and wait for jobs to come to them, like most Americans, it seems. Just as bad as Trump and his unstable personality is House Republicans, who blocked immigration bills in 2006 and 2013 that the White House was willing to sign. Is there such a thing as a “moderate” Republican in the House? Supposedly there are a handful and most of them have announced there are resigning their seats because they feel they have no place at the table, having to compete with far-right fanatics from the “Freedom Caucus” for “attention” from the party leadership—and usually losing.
No thanks to jelly-spined Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, the House majority is all fire and no substance when it comes to anything useful or human, let alone immigration reform. Yes, on occasion Ryan will mumble something about “unhelpful” commentary from the radicals in his party, but more usually he is so desperate not to appear weak and ineffectual he will gladly wilt before the foul breath of the far-right. Not that Ryan is without “principle”; after all, he has long advocated deep cuts in or eliminating Medicare and Medicaid, and currently is pushing for a 25 percent cut in both. During his campaign Trump told working class voters that he would touch neither, but then again, he will do what “needs to be done” to pay for his “great military” and his “beautiful wall.” Needless-to-say, House Republicans have no substantive immigration “plan” on the table, and have made no promises that they will even consider a Trump-approved plan, that will likely have a difficult time even passing the Senate.
The upshot of all of this is that Democrats and the few moderate Republicans in the Senate (that the emotionally infantile Trump refuses to talk to now) should have no more expectation that an immigration deal will be done without compulsion than since December, when they last “punted” the issue without a resolution, or since September when they knew the day of reckoning was coming. Or for that matter since at least 2004, when Republicans renewed using immigration as tool of scapegoating and hate to motivate their “base”—and which as Trump has proven, is still “useful” to them. No one should expect an immigration deal that has any humanity or decency or common sense to the real economic needs of this country by February 8, when the current short-term spending bill ends.
What will the Democrats do then? One thing that is certain that they must continue to make clear that it is Trump and the far-right of the political spectrum who are pushing their version of “reform” that is inherently indecent and deliberately focused not on passage but defeat. But then again that certainly won’t bother those from Trump’s base, like Stefanie MacWilliams, who posted this on the website Halsey News, which with no apparent irony claims that “the more biased the better” is not incompatible with the truth: “I can say the American people have zero legal responsibility for a single one of these (DACA) people. They would be fully within their rights to ship every last one home. Every one of them is a criminal, whether they actively chose to be or not. Tough luck.” Most Americans may claim to be less immoral, but I’ll believe it when I see it.