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Remember that initiative that granted legal status to the children of illegal immigrants? No? It was that program that President Obama enacted while he was in office. The one that Republicans and Democrats were supposed to be addressing earlier this year?
Yes, THAT program. The one that caused an hours-long government shutdown last month. You could be forgiven if you forgot about the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. According to President Donald Trump, the Democrats have as well.
On Friday, President Trump tweeted, “For those of you who are still interested, the Democrats have totally forgotten about DACA. Not a lot of interest on this subject from them!”
I disagree with the president’s tweet. The Democrats have not forgotten about DACA; they never cared about it in the first place.
The GOP Has Made Generous Offers On DACA
The battle over DACA has been a contentious one. Democrats have accused President Trump and the GOP of racism, xenophobia, and misogyny because they won’t pass a clean DACA bill. Okay, the Democrats didn’t really make accusations of misogyny, but that’s only because they couldn’t figure out how.
On the other hand, Republican lawmakers, along with the president, have stated that the Democrats don’t want to protect our borders.
But what do the facts say?
Earlier this year, Trump made his offer. 700,000 illegal immigrants covered by DACA would be granted citizenship. To sweeten the deal, he was willing to cover 1.1 million illegal immigrants who would have qualified for DACA but did not apply. Trump’s offer doubles the number of immigrants he was originally willing to cover.
In return, Trump asked for $25 billion in funding for border security and the border wall. He also requested limits on our chain migration policy that grants preferences to the family members of individuals living in the United States. He wanted to take a similar approach to the diversity visa lottery program. Previously, the president stated that he wanted to end the program altogether.
Despite the fact that President Trump was willing to make concessions above and beyond his previous offer, the Democrats said “no.”
The Democrats Reject The GOP’s Offer
Earlier this month, Congress attempted to pass four immigration bills, including the president’s proposal. All four of them failed. One of the bills, which were sponsored by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Chris Dodd (D-DE) would have granted legal status to dreamers. It would have also funded border security, but not as urgently as Trump wanted. A bill sponsored by Senator Patrick J. Toomey (R-PA), would have punished sanctuary cities.
The other bill was a bipartisan proposal that would have legalized the same number of illegal immigrants as Trump’s proposal while allocating $25 billion for border security construction over the next ten years — still much slower than Trump’s offer. This bill would also have limited chain migration, but not as aggressively as Trump’s bill.
The president’s bill failed with a 39 to 60 vote. 14 Republicans voted against the bill because it gave too many concessions. Three Democrats voted for the legislation. However, if the Democrats had been willing to accept the president’s offer, the votes of the 14 GOP senators would not have tanked the bill. Put simply, the Democrats had an opportunity to give the Dreamers what they wanted — and then some –but they chose to reject each bill.
Why Don’t The Democrats Care About Dreamers?
The Democrats’ failure to support any of the four bills reveals their true stance on the Dreamers. They embraced identity politics to gain the support of Dreamers, but in the end, they left them high and dry. But why would they squander this opportunity? It’s simple.
For starters, the plight of the Dreamers gives them a rhetorical weapon to use against the GOP and the Trump administration. They are betting that they can reframe this debate in a way that paints Republicans as hateful bigots who don’t like brown people in their country. They are likely planning to rely on their friends in the establishment media to help them promote this narrative.
Secondly, they don’t want increased border security. The Democrats believe illegal immigration is beneficial to their cause. They’re probably right. A 2016 study published by the Pew Research Center reveals that two-thirds of Hispanic voters lean towards Democrats. Unfortunately for the Dreamers, this reality means that their prospects aren’t looking too favorable.
The Democrats’ Manipulation Of The Dreamers
The current situation with the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals program demonstrates their tendency to use identity politics to woo certain groups of people without providing real results. They have done the same with other groups. Democratic politicians make overtures to a particular group, cast them as victims, use them as political weapons, and in the end, they do nothing for them.
If their current behavior is any indication, the Democrats will continue to stymie efforts to address the DACA situation and beef up our border security. To them, Dreamers are just another way to gain more influence by attacking their political opponents. When push comes to shove, they are nothing more than a means to an end.