Originally Published in The Los Angeles Times.
By RUBEN NAVARRETTE JR.
JAN 23, 2019
It’s no fairy tale to say that the immigration debate could really use more Goldilocks solutions — not too hard or too soft, not open borders or a tightly sealed door. We need answers that are just right.
Negotiations will often turn on being able to take half a loaf. But President Trump’s new offer to end the government shutdown — with what he billed as a “common-sense compromise both parties can embrace” — is more like a crumb.
Trump is asking for $5.7 billion to build a “steel barrier” along a sliver of the U.S.-Mexico border, along with billions of dollars more for drug-detection technology, border patrol agents, immigration judges, and humanitarian aid for refugees. In exchange, the president offered to re-instate provisional legal status for three years for the hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people who signed up for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Trump ended that program in September 2017, thereby sending recipients spiraling toward an uncertain future that could include forcible removal. Under Trump’s latest pitch, these young people couldn’t be deported for three years, but they’d have no permanent legal status. They would remain at the whim of a political system that has shown them little regard, and their special dispensation could we taken away with the stroke of a pen.
That’s weak porridge. You would think someone who has wreaked so much havoc on the lives of so many would have more to give by way of a remedy than simply kicking the can down the road past his re-election campaign in 2020.
Still, none of this lets Democrats off the hook. They’ve been louses where immigrants are concerned, simultaneously acting tough and compassionate. It’s maddening, the con they run.
Their quick repudiation of Trump’s offer — even before the ink was dry — tells us they don’t think the shutdown is costing them politically because Trump is catching the blame. It also confirms that Democrats are as duplicitous as ever when it comes to immigration. In fact, they are often part of the problem.
It’s sad. The modern Democratic Party flips John F. Kennedy’s famous line on its head: It never asks what it can do for Dreamers, only what holding Dreamers hostage can do for it.
Meanwhile, on the cultural right — which is populated by racists who worry that America is overrun by Latino immigrants from south of the border — critics tore into Trump for allegedly offering lawbreakers a full-blown “amnesty” with all the trimmings.
Ringleader Ann Coulter — who considers it her sacred duty to prevent the eradication of white people in a nation that is still run by them — has written and said too many racially insensitive things to list here.
About the president’s plan, Coulter tweeted, “Trump’s solution: Let’s just amnesty them!”
Someone needs to bone up on the English language. Amnesties are permanent and unconditional. What Trump proposes is neither.
The big flaw in the compromise proposed by the White House is that it is tied to the original sin — DACA. The Obama administration used that program to trick desperate young people who were dying of thirst to guzzle water that wasn’t safe to drink. It’s hard to imagine anyone characterizing DACA as a government giveaway when the recipients did most of the giving — handing over fingerprints, mugshots and home addresses to law enforcement who can now deport them at will.
Don’t be distracted. DACA is better off dead, and it deserves no resurrection.
The “just right” solution is obvious: full legal status and green cards for the nearly 700,000 DACA recipients, and mere protective status for the estimated 1.8 million Dreamers who didn’t sign up but still shouldn’t be deported. No one gets citizenship, unless they jump through the necessary hoops to earn it.
Most importantly, we ought to make sure this whole part of the debate stays separate and apart from any horse-trading about Trump’s wall, which was always doomed to fail. After all, whether you call it a wall, a fence or a steel barrier, it’s expensive, poorly defined, likely to disappoint and almost certain not to keep anyone out.
Trump must realize all this by now. Surely, the former real estate tycoon knows a troubled asset when he sees one. His proposed “big beautiful wall” is as troubled as they come. Which is why he desperately needs Democrats to take the project off his hands, by accepting a deal that makes them part owners of whatever monstrosity rises from the ground.