Robert W. Merry writes that Donald Trump is on the verge of losing his political advantage over the illegal immigration issue. Americans spoke loud and clear in the election to say they don’t want illegal immigration, and despite their tolerance for DACA recipients, most fear granting extended rights to illegal minors will reward the bad behavior of their parents via chain immigration. In his most recent post at The American Conservative, Merry explores Trump’s options:
Donald Trump captured the presidency even though he got only 28 percent of the Hispanic vote, merely a percentage point above Mitt Romney’s total four years earlier. He got only 57 percent of the white vote, two percentage points below Romney’s 2012 showing. And the white vote last year constituted only 71 percent of the electorate, compared to 72 percent in 2012.
Trump demonstrated that an attack on the country’s lax immigration policies of the past 30 years could pay off politically, given the angers, frustrations, and fears generated by the immigration issue within broad spectrums of the electorate….
But that still begs the question: What should Trump do now, or what should he have done? He should have killed outright Barack Obama’s executive action called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), giving Dreamers legal status. It was unconstitutional, a naked grab for power that rightfully belongs to Congress. He should have hammered away at the constitutional issue, which must always take precedence over favored political outcomes.
Then he should have used the leverage provided by the DACA termination to bring it back legislatively in a more palatable form, precluding by law any “chain migration” outcomes flowing from that legislative action.
Then he should have proposed a truly comprehensive immigration policy designed to rid the country of any illegals convicted of any crime at any time in the past; provide some kind of legal status (but not citizenship) to remaining illegals already in the country; reduce legal immigration to numbers more in keeping with traditional inflows (and designed to reduce the percentage of foreign born people in the country, now approaching an all-time high); alter the criteria for entry to eliminate “chain migration” and favor immigrants who clearly can make an immediate contribution to the public weal; and incorporate strong measures (including a border wall) designed to clamp down forcefully on all illegal immigration into the United States.
Trump was the only politician in America who could have proposed such a comprehensive plan and shepherded it through Congress. That’s because, based on his 2016 campaign, he was the only politician with credibility on the issue of truly protecting the U.S. border, the only one who could have spoken to cynics who believe, correctly, that the political establishment really doesn’t care all that much about protecting border sovereignty.
Now he appears on the threshold of booting that political advantage. This isn’t the behavior of a politician who knows how to negotiate, much less how to think about the day’s political challenges with any degree of depth or dexterity.
Read more here.