FEATURED:

GOP should support DREAM Act to support itself in midterms

GOP should support DREAM Act to support itself in midterms
© Getty

Donald Trump had a fabulous New Year’s Eve party at his glitzy Mar-a-Lago Resort.

All the while, thanks to this president, nearly 1 million young, undocumented immigrants, brought to this country through no fault of their own, rung in the New Year feeling fear, uncertainty and anguish the likes of which few Americans will ever know or understand.

The dichotomy is striking because in mid-2017, Trump, in one fell, callous swoop, ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the Obama-era program for these young immigrants, known as "Dreamers", that let them temporarily stay and work, study or serve in the military until a permanent solution could be found for them.

ADVERTISEMENT
At the time, Trump promised they would be taken care of and they didn’t need to worry — an easy thing to say when you are sipping champagne in your gilded golf club while these kids are worried they may be deported at any time.

 

While Trump may not care about the fate of these young immigrants, he should care about his political fate and that of his party, which is already in jeopardy in 2018. It will be further in danger if he doesn’t work toward a fair solution that keeps his word to protect these workers, students and military personnel who are as American as he is except for a piece of paper.

Trump’s most recent tweet about DACA betrays this fear. He hypocritically accuses Democrats of “doing nothing on DACA” and goes on to laughably predict that “Hispanics will go hard against Dems, will start ‘falling in love’ with Republicans and their President!”

Let’s not insult the intelligence of the American people, especially Hispanics.

Trump’s current approval rating among Latinos remains dismally low. They know who it was that called Mexicans rapists and who accused a Mexican-American judge of not being capable of doing his job because of his Mexican heritage.

They know who wants to get rid of birthright citizenship, who wants to build a 2,200-mile wall and make Mexico pay for it, and who speaks of the public safety threat from illegal aliens when in fact, the immigrant population commits crimes at a much lower rate than those who are American-born.

Latino voters also know, as do most Americans, over 80 percent of whom favor letting the Dreamers stay in this country legally, that these young immigrants positively contribute to our society and to our economy and that the vast majority of them are living honest and honorable lives.

In fact, removing these workers from their jobs would cost the U.S. economy nearly half a trillion dollars in GDP loss over the next decade. Additionally, employers would face more than $6.3 billion in unnecessary turnover costs to recruit, replace and train almost 800,000 new employees.

There are brilliant Dreamer students at our universities working on life-saving research on the human heart and on drone technology to make agricultural work more efficient, while their parents are doing back-breaking labor in those same fields.

Many are putting their lives on the line to defend this great country — the only country they have ever known and the one they call home. They deserve better than a president who has used them as political fodder at his rallies.

Trump knows rescinding the DACA program was a politically fraught move. Let’s remember that shortly after that, it was President TrumpDonald John TrumpTillerson: Russia already looking to interfere in 2018 midterms Dems pick up deep-red legislative seat in Missouri Speier on Trump's desire for military parade: 'We have a Napoleon in the making' MORE who, during a meeting at the White House, promised to work with Democratic leaders on a DACA solution without demanding construction of his ridiculous wall, or any other obvious poison pill that would do nothing but guarantee gridlock.

He has since cynically gone back on that promise. After all, much of his base would not forgive him for letting undocumented immigrants stay in this country. Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingTrump’s assault on immigrant children must stop Fractured GOP struggles with immigration strategy 'Release the memo' — let's stop pretending that Democrats are the defenders of the FBI MORE (R-Iowa), one of the most anti-immigrant activists in Congress, privately urged Trump to not allow any passage of DACA.

Trump is now demanding construction of the wall and an end to chain migration in exchange for a DACA deal. Let’s be clear: Democrats have always supported strong robust and additional border security, whatever it is called.

But a 2,200-mile wall is physically impossible to build on the southern border, is fiscally irresponsible and is not supported by many Republican members of Congress and governors from border states. It is a non-starter with Democrats.

Caught between his unforgiving supporters and what he knows is a politically dangerous path if he does not pass DACA, Trump is now disingenuously accusing Democrats of “doing nothing for DACA” even though they have been the ones, along with sensible Republicans, who have worked on a DREAM Act that would protect Dreamers and allow them to continue their valuable contributions to our country.

In fact, a bipartisan DREAM Act is sitting on House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Overnight Defense: Latest on spending fight - House passes stopgap with defense money while Senate nears two-year budget deal | Pentagon planning military parade for Trump | Afghan war will cost B in 2018 House passes stopgap spending measure with defense money MORE’s (R-Wis.) desk right now and could be brought to a vote tomorrow and pass with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Every day that passes without that bill being called to a vote is one more day Trump and the GOP leadership prove they are prioritizing short-term political expediency over a common-sense permanent solution for these brave young immigrants.

That is not a good look for Republicans, who are already in the political danger zone going into the 2018 midterm elections, where they will need to appeal to minority voters in order to prevent a shellacking.

If Trump and Republicans would support a clean DREAM Act, which Americans want and Dreamers deserve, it would indeed be a Happy New Year for these young immigrants. It could also shape up to be a better year for Republicans than what it is looking like so far.

Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.