Evan Vucci/Associated Press
President Donald Trump’s supporters are increasingly concerned that he is going to capitulate to Democrats’ demands as Congress wrestles with the canceled Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
In ending the program last week, the president allowed a six-month window for Congress to decide what should happen to its beneficiaries. And media reports suggest that Democrats have the upper hand in negotiations.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is pushing for a vote on the so-called “Dream Act,” which Congress failed to pass during the first two years of the Obama administration, when Democrats controlled both houses and had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Alternatively, Democrats may succeed in codifying DACA in law in return for measly concessions on border security — which do not include funding for Trump’s long-promised border wall.
President Trump is partly to blame for this state of affairs, after giving up much of his early negotiating leverage by suggesting that Congress’s job would be to “legalize” DACA. He has yet to say what concessions he will demand in return — i.e. what provisions would cause him to veto a DACA bill. Without clear limits, DACA risks becoming a total debacle, and Trump risks alienating his supporters.
Here are three deal-breakers he should lay out, and soon:
1. No Path to Citizenship. DACA beneficiaries who are allowed to remain in the country with some kind of legal status should not be allowed to become citizens unless they return to their countries of origin and apply to immigrate legally. There are several reasons for this. First and foremost, the rule of law demands that illegal actions cannot be rewarded in the same manner as legal actions. Doing otherwise would punish legal immigrants unfairly.
Second, allowing DACA beneficiaries to become citizens would mean legalizing far more than the original 800,000 or so recipients. It would allow DACA beneficiaries to bring family members to the U.S., including the parents who brought them. DACA beneficiaries may have arrived “through no fault of their own,” but it is someone‘s fault, and they should not benefit. Legalizing them would also prejudice future legislation about illegal aliens in general.
Third, it is no secret that Democrats’ primary interest in illegal immigration has to do with gaining potential votes, to replace those they have lost by shifting left and alienating their traditional working-class base. Allowing DACA beneficiaries to gain citizenship and the vote would reward Democrats for failing to enforce immigration laws, and for blocking attempts at immigration reform for many years. That would only encourage future political mischief.
2. Border Wall Must Be Funded. Though Mexico will supposedly pay for the wall — likely through taxes on the remittances Mexican workers send home — Congress has yet to fund the startup costs. The wall was Trump’s clearest promise to his voters. Furthermore, Republicans have argued for a decade that there can be no legalization without securing the border. Democrats are trying to re-litigate the issue, but they lost in 2016. No wall, no DACA.
3. Security Before Legalization. Whatever legal status is afforded to DACA beneficiaries should not take effect until the government can certify that the border is secure and the laws are being enforced. (Failure to obey that sequence resulted in the defeat of the “Gang of Eight” bill in 2013.) There should be a probationary period of several years, during which DACA beneficiaries should know that they can be deported for committing any crime.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.