In early September, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that DACA was being rescinded, which meant that about 800,000 immigrants who entered the country as minors and had stayed on—and who, at this point, knew no other life—would lose their ability to work legally in the U.S. and, in some cases, have their driver’s licenses revoked. Many would be deported, either instantly or in time.
After an enormous outcry, Trump undermined his AG, as he is wont to do, and met with Democratic leaders to discuss a possible deal to protect the “Dreamers.” Sessions was probably frustrated, and Trump probably didn’t care, since he still harbors a grudge after Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation.
Now, almost a month later, the White House has released its terms. In order to protect the status of the Dreamers, they want a few things from Congress. Among them, per the Times:
Before agreeing to provide legal status for 800,000 young immigrants brought here illegally as children, Mr. Trump will insist on the construction of a wall across the southern border, the hiring of 10,000 immigration agents, tougher laws for those seeking asylum and denial of federal grants to “sanctuary cities,” officials said.
But that’s not all!
The White House is also demanding the use of the E-Verify program by companies to keep illegal immigrants from getting jobs, an end to people bringing their extended family into the United States, and a hardening of the border against thousands of children fleeing violence in Central America. Such a move would shut down loopholes that encourage parents from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to send their children illegally into the United States, where many of them melt into American communities and become undocumented immigrants.
Oh, that’s it?
That goes against the previous negotiations with Congress, in which Trump said, among other things, that he wouldn’t make the construction of a border wall a part of any DACA deal. Which means, apparently, that those negotiations weren’t going very well.
There are three options here.
1. The White House could actually be taking a hard line, which case DACA is probably doomed.
2. This could be the opening tactic of a second negotiation.
3. It could be pure bluster based out of frustration, with no real strategic aim except to make Trump look tough and try to intimidate the Dems in acquiescence, but which will likely end with another congressional stand-off of undetermined outcome.
The two most prominent architects behind the new demands are, no surprise, Jeff Sessions and Stephen Miller. And it’s also no surprise that Democrats have expressed alarm at what amounts to the dismantling
“The administration can’t be serious about compromise or helping the Dreamers if they begin with a list that is anathema to the Dreamers, to the immigrant community and to the vast majority of Americans,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leaders in the Senate and the House, said in a joint statement.
“If the president was serious about protecting the Dreamers, his staff has not made a good-faith effort to do so,” they added.
In the end, we have a president who is using the border wall, the lives of innocent children fleeing their home countries at grave danger to themselves, and the erasure of any even vaguely “safe space” for immigrants in America as bargaining chips for DACA protection. And despite that, he still says he’s not open to the Dreamers ever becoming full citizens!
This is not a negotiation with Democrats—it’s a declaration that no such negotiation is possible. Forget compromise, because Trump just turned this into a war.