Trump's State of the Union makes clear: No amount of amnesty can please Democrats

Trump's State of the Union makes clear: No amount of amnesty can please Democrats
© Toya Sarno Jordan

The White House pitched its four pillars of immigration reform during the State of the Union in its attempt to move the nation forward on an issue that has vexed many preceding administrations.

The plan was very well received by the American public, with nearly three out of four Americans supporting the president’s framework, according to a CBS poll released shortly after it was over. But judging by the reaction from the Democratic side of the aisle — who will need to contribute nine votes to get anything passed in the Senate — immigration reform may be in serious trouble. Again.

One leg of this four-legged stool involves full funding for the wall and other deterrents on both the northern and southern border. This is a concept that really shouldn’t be controversial at all, given the fact that Democrats overwhelmingly voted for the construction of 700 miles of border wall and other deterrents roughly 11 years ago.


The second and third legs are reforms that appear at first blush to move in the right direction, but fail to deliver the reforms in a timely manner. The second leg would prioritize the reunification of nuclear families and eliminate chain migration. However, this much-needed reorientation would only begin after roughly four million extended family members who are currently in line enter the U.S., a process that is expected to take a decade or more.


The third leg of the stool eliminates the useless visa lottery, which awards 50,000 coveted green cards randomly. Like the second leg, this proposal fails to enact real reforms that return immigration to more traditional levels. Instead, it merely reallocates these visas to give green cards to family and employment-based admissions, resulting in no admission reductions at all for decades.

The fourth leg of the stool (three-legged stools are better) would grant amnesty and a pathway to citizenship to 1.8 million illegal aliens. This is considerably more than the 700,000 DACA recipients currently protected: A group the Democrats have insisted on permanently protecting for years and actually shut the federal government down to benefit. Trump’s proposal would effectively cover illegal aliens who never even applied or those who have fallen out of status.

President TrumpDonald TrumpCuban embassy in Paris attacked by gasoline bombs Trump Jr. inches past DeSantis as most popular GOP figure in new poll: Axios Trump endorses Ken Paxton over George P. Bush in Texas attorney general race MORE’s overly generous offer of amnesty, and his unilateral surrender of other critical tools necessary for real immigration reform — like mandatory E-Verify and an end to dangerous sanctuary policies — should have been greeted with glee on the Democratic side of the aisle. Instead, the camera panned to a lifeless and joyless group of politicians who looked more like the “Sour Puss Caucus” than a group that received an offer that is overly stacked in their favor.

It’s easy to see why immigration control-minded groups have largely panned the plan, but why the Democrats? This begs the question: If Democrats can’t find the love for an amnesty proposal that is nearly three times larger than what they asked for, what does it take? Perhaps nothing short of universal amnesty and open borders will do the trick for them. Unfortunately, embracing open borders puts them at immediate odds with a huge swath of the American public. 

A new Harvard-Harris poll shows most Americans support much lower levels of immigration than the current 1.1 million immigrants per year. In fact, 63 percent of Americans support a level of less than 500,000 immigrants per year, including 55 percent of Hispanics, 63 percent of African Americans and 53 percent of voters who identify as Democrats.

By refusing to compromise with Republicans on immigration reform, despite a major concession from the White House in the form of a mass amnesty, Democrats have turned themselves into the party of “no.” They have become obstructionists who are willing to turn a blind eye to the will of the American people, while at the same time blocking benefits to a group of illegal aliens for whom they feign compassion, for their own political gain.

No wonder none of them could smile.

Dave Ray is director of communications at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).