Moment of truth for Trump: Deal-maker or deporter-in-chief

Moment of truth for Trump: Deal-maker or deporter-in-chief


© Greg Nash

Originally published by The Hill

With the federal government open and momentum in the House and Senate to take on immigration reform, the stars are aligning for President Trump to make a great deal with Congress and snatch a major legislative victory that even former President Obama could not lock when Democrats controlled Congress in 2009.

The mercurial president can lose this opportunity in the blink of an eye, however, and be responsible for the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Dreamers, or undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children.

Last year, the Trump administration terminated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that provided nearly 800,000 Dreamers the opportunity to work and be protected against deportation.

While doing this, however, the president gave Congress until March 5, 2018 to provide a permanent solution for Dreamers.
While it pleased a loud but small base of nativists, Trump is coming to terms that it wasn’t the best move to make as protecting Dreamers rates high in the consciousness of the majority of the American people.

According to recent CBS poll, at a time when Americans don't agree on much, a whopping 87 percent say Dreamers should remain in the U.S. provided they meet certain requirements (i.e. work or school).

Even high profile figures like Kim Kardashian, Cher, Pope Francis, and companies including Amazon and Marriott have come out defending Dreamers.

Prospects for an agreement have had its highs and lows depending mainly on who whispers last in the president’s ear. Early in the year, Trump appeared to sign off on a framework with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosiand Charles Schumer that traded the Dream Act for additional security at the border.

Backing away from the compromise soon after, Trump eventually sided with his anti-immigrant advisor Stephen Miller who has authored the White House's wide-ranging immigration plan. His plan would target legal immigrants, end the diversity visa program, empower agents to deport grandmothers with no criminal record and punish sanctuary cities. That seems to be the holy grail of immigration policies in Republican circles.

Who is running the White House? Mr. Deal Maker, or a lowly staffer bent on sinking any deals who will likely be tossed aside like Stephen Bannon?

In any major corporation, like the Trump Organization, an underling would be fired for undermining the CEO’s plan to improve the company.

Trump should fire Miller, immediately, and lead on immigration.

The president can corral members of Congress like he did in his reality TV show The Apprentice and force them to accept his signature deal: citizenship for Dreamers for billions allocated to smart border security, period.

Indeed, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said last week that Republicans will also agree to similar parameters: $25 billion and 10-year border security in exchange for permanent protection for Dreamers.

There is an urgency to get this deal done as each day 122 Dreamers lose their DACA protection and are at risk of arrest and deportation.

A presidency makes its mark on history not just by its landmark accomplishments, but also by its scandals.

Nowadays, the Trump White House has done a great job leveraging the scandals to distract the American people from pressing problems facing our country.

But as Trump’s book, "The Art of the Deal," foreshadowed, ”you can't con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole. But if you don't deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on.”

Trump has a clear choice: broker a historic deal or be responsible for the deportation of America’s dreamers.

"Deporter-in-chief: Trump arrests and deports Dreamers” is not the headline the president wants to see blazing across cable news.

Donald Trump, it’s time to close the deal.

Cesar Vargas, Esq. is a co-director of the Dream Action Coalition and national advocate for immigration reform.


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