Feehery: Trump lays groundwork for immigration two-step

Blaming Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenMore than million in DHS contracts awarded to firm of acting secretary's wife: report DHS IG won't investigate after watchdog said Wolf, Cuccinelli appointments violated law Appeals court sides with Trump over drawdown of immigrant protections MORE for the border crisis is like blaming Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE for the sun coming up.

But a scapegoat is what the president wanted and that’s what he got in his beleaguered soon-to-be former Homeland Security secretary. 

Trump campaigned on the wall, border security and a broad crackdown on illegal immigration to power his unexpected rise to the Oval Office, so I guess you can excuse him for being a little obsessed with the issue.

ADVERTISEMENT

And absent a deal with the Congress, it appears his only recourse is to enforce the law as written and suffer some bad press as a result. 

Trump’s idea to close the border reminded me of the scene in “Blazing Saddles,” where Sheriff Bart takes himself hostage.

Taking our economy hostage is no way to solve our immigration problems.

The president, thankfully, backed off that threat, but has moved on to threatening our auto industry as a way to compel Mexico to take action on their side of the border. 

That, too, makes little sense to me. He wants to win Michigan again, doesn’t he? 

It is the booming economy that will win this president a second term, not shooting wildly and hitting nothing on the immigration issue. 

And so, what the president’s son-in-law is semi-secretly attempting to do on legal immigration will be far more productive for the Trump reelection campaign. 

Attracting the best talent and the best workers from around the globe is the surest way to keep all Americans working productively for the next generation and keep the economy booming.

I think most Americans agree that legal immigration should be encouraged while illegal immigration should be discouraged. 

Folks who come here legally pay taxes, pay into Social Security, get paid competitive wages, and live within our laws. They are productive members of our society and many of them eventually become citizens.

Illegal immigrants, on the other hand, often get abused by unscrupulous employers, which depresses wages. They usually get paid under the table and so don’t pay either taxes or Social Security and they are forced to live outside the margins of civil society. 

That’s not to say that illegal immigrants are by definition bad people, because many come here to escape horrible conditions at home, and they want the best chance to live in freedom and prosperity. But illegal immigration is bad for those who come here illegally and bad for America’s workers.

The Trump two-step on immigration is thus defined. 

Use the law to clamp down on illegal immigration. Kick people out of the country who don’t belong here and don’t have any respect for our laws. 

Make sure to follow the letter of the law, because the judicial branch is not giving this president any leeway. 

And use that pressure on illegal immigration to compel Congress, especially House Democrats, to move legislation to expand the definitions of legal immigration. 

What Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerAbraham Accords: New hope for peace in Middle East Tenants in Kushner building file lawsuit alleging dangerous living conditions Trump hosts Israel, UAE, Bahrain for historic signing MORE is trying to do to make our legal immigration system better requires legislation, but there is no evidence that the progressive community wants to give the president any kind of legislative victory on this issue (or any issue, for that matter).

Democrats like to talk about immigration, but they don’t actually like doing anything to fix our broken system. Remember when President Obama and House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHoyer: House should vote on COVID-19 aid — with or without a bipartisan deal Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose at Supreme Court McCarthy threatens motion to oust Pelosi if she moves forward with impeachment MORE (D-Calif.) had huge majorities in Congress and then spent all their political capital on health care and climate change? 

They could have rammed through something for the Dreamers, but they didn’t because those voters aren’t really that important to them.

If Trump wants to make legislative progress, he is going to have to make it really uncomfortable for Democrats.  And the best way to do that it is to fully enforce the law, as written. 

It won’t be pretty, but I can’t see any other way to make progress on this issue. 

Feehery is a partner at EFB Advocacy and blogs at www.thefeeherytheory.com. He served as spokesman to former Speaker Dennis HastertJohn (Dennis) Dennis HastertFeehery: Trump landslide is only way to save the republic as we know it Feehery: A surprising Republican wave election could be looming Feehery: How Trump wins MORE (R-Ill.), as communications director to former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) when he was majority whip and as a speechwriter to former House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Ill.).