Once again the forgotten men and women of America can breathe a sigh of relief. The Senate debate on a legislative fix for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) ended with all three proposed bills being defeated. Meanwhile, two federal courts have blocked the Trump administration from rescinding DACA, no doubt contrary to what the judges intended, relieving the pressure to push a legislative fix through Congress before March 5, the putative ending date of the program.
So failing some unforeseen breakthrough, and somewhat reminiscent of the demise of the ObamaCare repeal efforts, the president, Congress and the media appear to be preparing to move on to other issues. The result is status quo ante. And many in the Trump base are just fine with that.
The core voters who arguably won Trump the election, many in the working class, are most incensed with the failure for a generation by their government to enforce the immigration laws. They see schools become overcrowded with children who require remedial English and their property taxes go up. They see their jobs taken or their raises postponed.
They see emergency rooms deluged and their public parks overrun. Most crushing of all, they find it increasingly difficult to teach their children why it is important to play by the rules when all those about them are trampling them. Consequently, when it comes to government policy, this is the only question that really matters to these voters: Does it increase or decrease illegal immigration in our communities?
Note that this is true despite polls showing large majorities supporting a path to citizenship for Dreamers. Most Americans are sympathetic toward those who find themselves in legal limbo through no fault of their own. But the typical Trump voter would not tolerate amnesty for any class of illegal alien if they suspected that it would exacerbate the core problem or worse, as Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits McCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Overnight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability MORE suggested, “invite a mad rush of illegality” to our southern border.
Had even the White House-endorsed bill, which garnered the least support in this month’s voting, been enacted it is likely that the “mad rush” would nevertheless have ensued. The plan called for DACA amnesty, a wall that wouldn’t be built for at least several years, and restrictions on family reunification, also known as chain migration, that would have kicked in 10 years hence. Notably absent was the E-Verify system or any enhanced interior enforcement.
Even the prospect of such a “solution” had already registered on the most accurate barometer of border insecurity, which is the number of illegal alien apprehensions by the U.S. Border Patrol. That monthly statistic, which dipped precipitously in the first six months of the Trump administration to about a third of its average value over the past five years, has surged back to near equality with border apprehensions over the last several years at the rate of roughly 40,000 per month.
In the absence of any significant legislation to change the immigration landscape then, the picture changes back to the same stalemate of the past 16 years, with one exception: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has now been set free to do its job. In addition, ICE Director Thomas Homan has concluded that workplace enforcement is the key to undermining illegality. He appears to recognize that if we don’t ever summon the will to send those already in the country illegally back to their home countries, then it really won’t matter how big a wall we build.
Meanwhile, the Democrats and those Republicans who are slaves to their Chamber of Commerce donors have insisted for years that amnesty was inescapable because reversing the trend of illegal immigration by enforcing the law was hopeless. That assertion is about to be put to the test. In fact, if the U.S. Border Patrol statistics illustrate one thing, it is how fragile the illegal immigration is. And if the 2016 election illustrates one thing, it is how rock solid the forgotten people are.
Michael Stopa is a nanotechnologist who served as a delegate for Donald Trump at the 2016 Republican Convention in Cleveland. He hosts a show with radio host Todd Feinburg on the Harvard Lunch Club podcast.