Are Democrats Sacrificing The Future For The Short-Term?

Stop me if you have heard this one before, “By embracing Donald Trump Republicans are sacrificing the future.”  But, what if the opposite was true.  What if Democrats, by playing hardball on DACA and refusing to solve the issue score a short-term win but allow a Republican President and Congress to implement immigration reform?

Last week, Democrats dug in their heels on DACA and refused to deal on the issue letting government funding lapse for two and a half days.  Noticeably, Democrats in Congress and the President are equally blamed instead of it all falling squarely on the GOP’s shoulders.

Now, the Trump administration has revealed its long awaited plan to deal with the issue.  It involves both conservative and liberal positions and puts Democrats in a tough position-at least as far as public opinion is concerned.  The vast majority of the public supports a path to citizenship for dreamers but also supports a border wall.

Trump’s proposal puts the Democrats mouths where their money is.  It would give almost 1.8 million DACA individuals a path to citizenship.  But, it would also include conservative positions such as ending chain migration and funding for a border wall.  Whether the bill could pass a GOP controlled House is questionable but it could probably get through the Senate.

The government shutdown was largely fueled by Democrats base.  Thus, it makes sense Democratic leadership and the rank and file will probably not go for this bill.  In the era of Trump, among Democrats, compromise is a dirty word and the party is likely weary of angering their base in an election year.

The underlying assumption in this base political play is it will endear the party to Latinos right at a time of demographic change.  It’s probably not a bad assumption.  But, it also opens up the possibility that a President Trump is actually the one who finally gets immigration reform through.

Hear me out for a second before you laugh the idea off.  For the most part, any fairly moderate immigration reform proposal is dead on arrival in the House.  But, if Democrats have a successful November and the GOP retains control of the Senate the chances for reform dramatically improve.

Even if the House shifts dramatically to the left it is unlikely the Senate would do the same.  If Senate Republicans along with Democrats teamed up with Trump they could likely exert enough pressure to get the House to vote on a measure.  Just think, a Republican President passing immigration reform?

Admittedly, if you are a Democrat now, you definitely don’t want Trump to pass immigration reform.  The problem is the base wants it all or at least a DACA fix and you have little leverage in the fight.  That is why Republicans basically dared Democrats to keep the government shutdown over an issue only base Democrats see as worthy of leading to a shutdown.  In this, Democrats have backed themselves into a corner.

The base is ancy and angry.  Any backing down on DACA in three weeks is likely to feel like a betrayal which is why Trump recently put out his amnesty-lite proposal in exchange for the farm.  Odds are good if Democrats deal Trump will be the one giving but he will be giving things that were unlikely to occur anyway (chain-migration for example).

Of course, Trump’s recent proposal is not full-blown reform.  It only touches the surface but it does give the President a softer side.  For the future it also leaves him room to maneuver and negotiate away things with a Democratic Congress.  For all the talk of Trump failing at dealing in Congress and politics that seems pretty savvy to me.


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