Pelosi could get ‘tinkle all over' her if she blocks funding for Trump’s border wall

After a meeting with President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpWatergate prosecutor says that Sondland testimony was 'tipping point' for Trump In private moment with Trump, Justice Kennedy pushed for Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination: book Obama: 'Everybody needs to chill out' about differences between 2020 candidates MORE about funding a border wall, House Democratic leader, Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Deal on defense bill proves elusive | Hill, Holmes offer damaging testimony | Trump vows to block Navy from ousting officer from SEALs On The Money: Trump signs short-term spending bill to avoid shutdown | Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 | California high court strikes down law targeting Trump tax returns Wasserman Schultz makes bid for House Appropriations Committee gavel MORE (D-Calif.), told members of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, “It goes to show you: You get into a tinkle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you.”

Pelosi is right. She will end up with stink all over her if she blocks funding for Trump’s border wall.

This isn’t just about keeping a campaign promise. Trump is facing an immigration crisis, and illegal border crossings are making it worse.

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A recent Yale study found that there are more than 22 million undocumented aliens in the United States, and an immigration court backlog crisis is making it impossible to reduce that population with removal proceedings.

As of November 30, 2018, the 395-judge immigration court had a backlog of 809,041 cases;    and this did not include an additional 330,211 cases that had not yet been put on the active docket. The backlog was only 542,411 cases when Trump took office.

California, Pelosi’s state, has the largest immigration court backlog in the country, 146,826 cases.

The average wait for a hearing is 1,018 days. This has made it very difficult to get hearings for newly arrested aliens, even aliens in priority categories.

If Pelosi prevents Trump from putting a wall across the Mexican border, his only viable option for reducing illegal crossings will be to focus his resources on eliminating the job magnet that draws undocumented aliens to the United States.

And that inevitably would hit Pelosi’s home state of California hard.

Congress tried to eliminate the job magnet by establishing employer sanctions in the  Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). Lax enforcement has prevented the sanctions from being effective, but previous administrations have not had enforcement problems as serious as the ones Trump is facing.

Trump has expanded his worksite enforcement operations already. In fiscal 2018, Homeland Security Investigations conducted 6,848 worksite investigations, compared to 1,691 in fiscal 2017; and they made 779 criminal arrests, compared to 139 in fiscal 2017.

Further expansion will target states with large populations of undocumented workers, and, according to the Public Policy Institute of California, California had the second-highest statewide concentration of undocumented workers in the United States in 2014. Nearly one in ten workers was an undocumented alien. 

The employer sanction provisions make it unlawful for employers to employ aliens knowing that they are not authorized to work in the United States:

  1. For a first offense, a fine of not less than $375 or more than $3,200 is imposed for each unauthorized immigrant;
  2. For a second offense, the fine is not less than $3,200 or more than $6,500; and
  3. For more than two offenses, the fine is not less than $4,300 or more than $16,000.

Engaging in a pattern or practice of knowingly hiring unauthorized immigrants can result in a fine of up to $3,000 for each unauthorized immigrant and imprisonment for up to six months. 

Strict enforcement of employer sanctions could create chaos within California’s employer class, the kind of personal and financial turmoil that elected representatives are expected to fix — and which puts them in bad odour if they don’t.

Instead of putting Trump in a position where he has to resort to such drastic action, Pelosi could offer him border wall funding in exchange for immigration reform legislation, such as a legalization program for DACA participants.

Previous negotiations with Trump on DACA legislation seemed promising when he offered a legalization program for 1.8 million DACA participants in his Framework on Immigration Reform & Border Security, but the Democrats would not agree to the concessions he was demanding.

The deal killer was a demand to end chain migration, but there is a way to compromise on that demand. Instead of a creating a regular legalization program for the DACA participants, create a place for them in the Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) program.

This little-known humanitarian program makes lawful permanent resident status available to undocumented alien children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent and should not be returned to their own countries.

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The SIJ provisions do not permit a participant to confer immigration benefits on his parents.  INA §101(a)(27)(J)(iii)(II) states that, “no natural parent or prior adoptive parent of any alien provided special immigrant status under this subparagraph shall thereafter, by virtue of such parentage, be accorded any right, privilege, or status under this Act.”

Trump’s other demand was to end the Diversity Visa Program (DVP), but the Democrats have shown a willingness to end this program. Senator Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump signs short-term spending bill to avert shutdown Senators urge Trump to suspend Huawei license approvals Tensions rise in Senate's legislative 'graveyard' MORE’s (D-N.Y.) Gang of Eight bill would have repealed the DVP if it had been enacted.

But more than 30 years have passed since the last legalization program (IRCA), and that includes periods when the Democrats had a strong majority in the House, a filibuster-busting majority in the Senate, and a president in the White House, such as the first two years of the Obama administration.

Makes me wonder whether the Democrats really want to help undocumented immigrants.

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.