For those of you who were at work yesterday afternoon, I want to tell you about a “bipartisan” meeting between President Trump and congressional leaders from both parties representing the Senate and House.
The subject was immigration, and specifically the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (know commonly as DACA). DACA allows individuals who entered and remained in the country as minors to receive a renewable period of deferred action from deportation and a work permit. This policy was established by President Obama in 2012 via regulation.
President Trump rescinded the regulation in September 2017 because it circumvented the responsibility of Congress to effect such laws. The rescission was delayed six month (until March 2018) to give Congress an opportunity to enact a new and permanent law for the affected illegal aliens. The policy has had a positive impact on the 800,000 young individuals involved, by all accounts. And it is generally seen as favorable by most legislators.
Back to the meeting. All the parties present were in favor of renewing DACA. Trump was ecstatic and Democratic members were cautiously optimistic about the direction of the conversation. To make a long story short, Trump asked one Republican House member if he was ready to introduce legislation to extend DACA. The individual said a draft of a new law was ready, and it included DACA, a rescission of chain migration and visa lotteries along with border security measures that would provide funding for the infamous border wall.
As a aside chain migration is a process in which legal immigrants are able to sponsor their extended families to obtain visas to enter the country. Visa lotteries provide visas to individuals from countries with low migration rates into the U.S, Both of these programs have been denigrated by the Trump administration. Essentially Trump believes that immigrants are not being vetted properly and undesirable individuals are entering the country.
The wall according to Trump will deter illegal immigration across the Mexican border from many places further south. Anyone who has followed this story knows that the wall is extraordinarily controversial. It’s important to recognize that Trump made the wall a principle issue in his campaign and is obligated to build it to retain the support of his base.
Back to the meeting again. Trump said that it looked like a done deal. Immigration reform would begin with DACA, chain migration, visa lotteries and border security (a.k.a., the wall). Comprehensive reform would follow later to decide, for instance, the paths to citizenship for illegals and other huge issues relating to immigration.
The Democrats began to rise up and say they only wanted to extend DACA and keep all other items for later reform negotiations. Trump said it was no big deal and that all the items he favored could be negotiated now. This went on for some time as individual lawmakers made mini-speeches about why DACA was important as a first step in immigration reform. Everybody was talking past each other. Trump was trying to end the meeting by saying a deal was imminent, but it is not.
In fact when the press was asked to leave the room, one journalist asked Trump specifically whether DACA could be extended without the wall. He responded no, and that DACA needed to be supported with border security.
No matter what you read today, do not be enthusiastic that the 800,000 illegals covered by DACA will be protected before the clock runs out in March. The meeting was a perfect example of the dysfunctional government in Washington. The parties cannot even enact legislation they both are in favor of. It is a sign of the times.