The debate over DACA is about what makes a 'real American'
Democrats, take Trump's DACA deal to save some from deportation
The White House has released an Immigration Principles and Policies list of things it wants in return for a deal to save the young immigrants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that is being phased out. My hope is that the Democrats will use it as a starting point for negotiations, but that may not happen.
According to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Trump "can't be serious" about reaching a deal when he starts out with proposals that are "anathema" to the Democrats.
That is an interesting comment in view of their support for the Senate's two major immigration reform bills, both of which were an anathema to the Republicans.
On May 25, 2006, the Senate passed the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, S. 2611. Although it had some bipartisan support, it was opposed by 58 percent of the Senate Republicans.
Then, on June 27, 2013, the Senate passed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, S. 744. This one was written by a bipartisan group of eight senators known as the "Gang of Eight," but it was opposed by 70 percent of the Senate Republicans.
Both were dead-on-arrival in the Republican-controlled House.
"While I congratulate the Senate for working hard to produce immigration reform legislation, I have many concerns about its bill. The bill repeats many of the same mistakes made in the 1986 immigration law (IRCA), which got us into this mess in the first place. Among my many concerns, the Senate bill does not adequately address the interior enforcement of our immigration laws and allows the Executive Branch to waive many, if not most, of the bill's requirements."
Trump took a more productive approach for saving the DACA participants. Instead of putting together a bill with the Republicans and recruiting a few Democrats to support it, he started with Democratic leaders Pelosi and Schumer and brokered a tentative agreement.
I do not want that tentative agreement to fail, and both parties should feel the same way. According to a Gallup poll released last week, Americans think that Congress is performing poorly. "Just 20 percent approve of the job Republicans in Congress are doing, the lowest to date in Gallup's 18-year trend. Congressional Democrats' 31 percent approval rating is better than the GOP's, but also near the low point for the party."
A two-step proposal.
First, establish a permanent DACA program, and second, use Trump's list as the starting point for negotiating a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would meet the essential political needs of both parties.
The DACA program.
The number of undocumented aliens who might benefit from a DREAM Act would range from 2.5 to 3.3 million. It isn't likely that an agreement will be reached if the Democrats insist on a DACA program that would be open to that many undocumented aliens.
The number should be reduced by applying a point-based system for selecting participants that is based on the principles in the Merit-Based Immigration System proposal on Trump's list. The points would be subject to negotiation, and the participants could be allowed to renew their status indefinitely.
This would provide security for many, if not all, of the DACA participants while Congress works on a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would include a more permanent solution.
Realistically, it is not going to be possible to work with Trump on a permanent DACA program without providing the funds he needs to at least start the construction of his wall, but this does not have to be a deal breaker.
Get him started with funding to complete the last 47 miles of the border fencing that was mandated by the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which was passed in the Senate 80 to 19. The yeas included current Senate party leaders Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Schumer and former Senators Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.).
As amended by section 564 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008, it requires DHS to "construct reinforced fencing along not less than 700 miles of the southwest border where fencing would be most practical and effective." DHS only completed 653 miles of the authorized fencing.
Finishing this project would give Trump a chance to show what he can do and provide a reliable basis for estimating the cost of a wall along the entire length of the Southwest border.
The alternative to finding a compromise is to abandon the tentative agreement and let the Democrats continue their endless stream of complaints about Trump, which won't improve Congress' approval ratings or save any of the DACA participants from being deported.
Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an executive branch immigration law expert for three years; he subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years.