Let’s follow the bouncing ball together. Throughout his entire campaign, President Trump repeatedly emphasized one single memorable policy priority: Building a wall along the southern border. After he was elected, he insisted that he would fulfill that promise, come hell, high water, or government shutdown. But after his administration announced the cancellation of President Obama’s legally-dubious executive amnesty for so-called ‘DREAMers’ (DACA), White House officials explicitly stated that an immigration compromise on that front could be reached without “the wall.” Flashback to early September:
White House legislative affairs director Marc Short told reporters on Tuesday that President Trump would not demand that border wall funding is tied to a legislative replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Speaking at a roundtable event hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, Short said the administration didn’t want to “bind” itself by making a demand that would likely be a nonstarter for many lawmakers. “We’re interested in getting border security and the president has made the commitment to the American people that a barrier is important to that security,” Short said. “Whether or not that is part of a DACA equation, or … another legislative vehicle, I don’t want to bind us into a construct that would make the conclusion on DACA impossible.”
He wasn’t backing off his clearly-stated objective per se, but he wasn’t going to demand that it be linked to this particular compromise. Mere weeks later, “the wall” was was reinserted into the conversation as a non-negotiable item: “The wall is suddenly back on the menu — alongside a slew of additional demands that touch on immigration hot buttons, ranging from sanctuary cities, to refugees, to elements of the RAISE Act. Democratic leaders have already rejected the administration’s new posture outright, which they say constitute an unacceptable departure from the tentative ‘understanding’ they struck in private meetings with the president several weeks ago,” I wrote in October. With Congress escaping for the holidays after passing a temporary government funding bill that did not address the issue of formalizing DREAMers’ legal status, key elements of the Democratic base were on the brink of open revolt against party leaders. The pressure is now on to strike a bargain and resolve this issue, with the legislative clock ticking down to a March deadline. Ahead of new talks (which reopen today), the White House has dug in on a hardline negotiating position, at least as an opening gambit:
The Democrats have been told, and fully understand, that there can be no DACA without the desperately needed WALL at the Southern Border and an END to the horrible Chain Migration & ridiculous Lottery System of Immigration etc. We must protect our Country at all cost!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 29, 2017
And here’s Kellyanne Conway on Fox News this morning, underscoring that “there is no DACA without funding for the wall:”
— Fox News (@FoxNews) January 3, 2018
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