Now that Democrats have fled from their ill-fated Schumer Shutdown, tail between their legs, attention now shifts to the ongoing talks over a possible DACA agreement on immigration. Lawmakers find themselves up against two deadlines: (1) The March cutoff established by the Trump administration after the president announced his cancellation of his predecessor’s legally-dubious executive amnesty, and (2) the February 8 time limit just set by Mitch McConnell, after which he’ll move to the introduction of bills and amendments on various legislative solutions to the DREAMer situation. As various ‘gangs’ and working groups on Capitol Hill power through their negotiations, it’s important to highlight that during the brief shutdown, two notable Democrats offered what appeared to be very significant concessions on border security. The Senate Minority Leader apparently put Trump’s prized border wall on the table as part of a potential deal:
Source says Schumer discussed the possibility of meeting Trump’s full request on the border wall, beyond what was in Durbin-Graham compromise https://t.co/mPMTyBvABp
— Sabrina Siddiqui (@SabrinaSiddiqui) January 20, 2018
Schumer himself confirmed at least a version of this, again invoking his apparent offer in what amounted to a concession speech on the failed shutdown he engineered: “My recent offer to the president was a generous one. I put his signature campaign issue on the table in exchange for DACA, and still he turned away.” The wall is now very much in the mix. Given the fanaticism of his left-wing “resistance” base, I’ll admit that I was slightly surprised to hear the most powerful Democrat in Congress openly considering helping the president fulfill his most famous campaign pledge, which was widely loathed and ridiculed by the Left. But I was more than slightly surprised by this:
A shift in the Dem message:
IL Dem Rep Gutierrez: "It’s not about a wall. We’ll build him a wall. Tell us how high you want it. But free the dreamers"
— Deirdre Walsh (@deirdrewalshcnn) January 20, 2018
Gutierrez represents the extreme left flank of his party on immigration. He stated on the record that as a sitting Congressman representing US citizens, his “only loyalty” is “to the immigrant community.” If he’s signaling that Trump’s wall is an acceptable element of a DREAMer compact, Republicans should accept nothing less. As someone who favors normalizing DREAMers’ legal status, it’s also essential to enact serious enforcement mechanisms to mitigate future illegal immigration, especially as the magnet effect grows more powerful after the enactment of a major amnesty (which is not a hypothetical scenario). The completion of a physical barrier along 700 miles of the southern border — as requested by the White House and as agreed to by Senate Democrats in 2013 — is one component of enforcement. It should not be the only one, although Republicans should not get too greedy. There is strong public support for increased border security, but even stronger support for a DACA-style law. That’s a political reality.
Another political reality is that as Democrats think about future forays into “comprehensive” reforms beyond the discrete DREAM issue (Trump is talking that up, too), they’ll want to strategically hang on to some major concessions for hypothetical bargaining yet to come. It’s fair to give them some breathing room on this front, so long as they agree to meaningful and serious improvements in a DACA deal. But should the GOP be wary of Democrats’ softening over the wall? National Review’sRich Lowry thinks so: