GOP Punts On Immigration. They Might Get Away With It—But Will America?
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After threatening to veto the $1.3 trillion Omnibus bill for lacking full funding for the wall and for not granting Amnesty to the so-called “DREAMers” (“Nightmares” in Ann Coulterspeak. President Donald J. Trump signed it anyway. Trump supporters are understandably aghast. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s staff are celebrating. [Schumer aide 'tired of all the winning' after Trump signs spending bill, by John Bowden, The Hill, March 24, 2018] Here are a few big takeaways and—surprise! —they aren’t all negative.
  • The Omnibus bill presented another opportunity for Congress to legalize DREAMers—illegal immigrants who (allegedly) came to the U.S. as minors. And they couldn’t get it done
Democrats offered to give the requested $25 billion for the wall in exchange for Amnesty, but the White House said no thanks. Trump offered his own deal where only previous DACA recipients would receive a three-year extension on their temporary legal status in exchange for full funding for the wall. Democrats rejected that.

Thankfully, Republican Congressional leaders remained in lockstep with the White House and did not try to sneak in any legalization for illegal immigrants. The Omnibus may have been the last chance for Congress to pass amnesty before the mid-terms. So immigration patriots have a victory, albeit a defensive one.

  • But the Congressional GOP leadership is showing no sign of pushing for positive patriotic immigration reform— and neither does the White House.
The Congressional GOP leadership could have done something about sanctuary cities in the Omnibus. [House conservatives to introduce amendments to omnibus, By Juliegrace Brufke, The Hill, March 18, 2018]

But they elected not to.

GOP leaders in the House are still sitting on Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s bill, making no effort to bring it to a vote or to talk it up as the party’s official stance. The Goodlatte bill [ H.R. 4760: Securing America’s Future Act of 2018]  is by no means perfect, but it is substantially better than any other DACA proposal and would improve America’s immigration system. Still, it’s apparently too much to ask of Paul Ryan to have a vote on the bill that would institute mandatory e-Verify, end chain migration and provide full funding for the wall.

President Trump himself has appeared to have forgotten about the Goodlatte bill—he only talks about DACA in exchange for funding the wall.

Instead of attacking Democrats for not refusing to side with the majority of Americans who want patriotic immigration reform, Trump makes a stupid “Democrats R The Real Racists” argument about how the Democrats refuse to save DACA. [Trump: Democrats 'Just Don't Care' About Daca, Program He Opted To End, By Cristiano Lima, Politico, March 5, 2018]

That line is not going to win any Hispanic votes for the GOP. And it will positively repel Trump’s base, which in fact positively does not want a DACA Amnesty and absolutely does want patriotic immigration reform.

Last month, I predicted DACA’s demise and wrote:

The next step for Trump: adopt the Goodlatte bill and bully Republicans into campaigning on it. This new framework actually gives something for immigration patriots to root for and will satisfy the president’s base. It would be stupid for the Congressional GOP to not campaign on it in 2018.

But then again, it isn’t called the Stupid Party for nothing.

Sadly, it looks like the Stupid Party is indeed not going to push for patriotic immigration reform (or anything else) in 2018. That means no Goodlatte bill or RAISE Act coming up for a vote—which would either pass or force Democrats to go on the record, which could then be used against them in the election—unless some unforeseen event shocks the GOP out of its complacency.

The GOP Establishment is just not going to run on patriotic immigration reform. Instead, it will punt. Tax cuts and the economy will be its pitch to voters. Needless, that pitch did not work out in the Pennsylvania special election earlier this month, but GOP leadership has chosen not to notice.

Maybe they’ll get away with it. Perhaps surprisingly, recent polls showing the 2018 race apparently tightening [CNN Poll: 42% approve of Trump, highest in 11 months, by Jennifer Agiesta, CNN, March 26, 2018; Fox News Poll: Gap narrows on 2018 vote preference, by Dana Blanton, FoxNews, March 25, 2018].

The GOP leadership doesn’t want to do anything on immigration for two main reasons.

  1. Rogue judges have kept DACA alive, so GOP leaders feel no rush to pass legislation on it. It’s just too much of a hindrance from their fiscal/ donor priorities.
  2. The GOP leadership is still simply not on the same page as Trump on immigration. Two years after Trump captured the GOP nomination, the leadership has still not accepted that the base voted for a National Conservative party.
Far from transforming into an immigration patriot after 2016, Paul Ryan claimed Trump’s presidential win was a response to the “regulatory state,” with no mention of immigration, let alone of Americans wanting to reverse demographic transformation. [Read Paul Ryan's Speech Calling Donald Trump's Victory the 'Most Incredible Political Feat', Time, November 9, 2016]

Ludicrously, Ryan has just told Ziocon Ben Shapiro (who thinks’s Peter Brimelow is a “white supremacist” that

I hate identity politics, it’s wrong, it’s morally wrong, but also it’s insidious, and it’s practiced on both sides. Our job is to reject identity politics and try and replace it with better ideas, an aspirational politics. I’m a Jack Kemp acolyte…
…and that the GOP can appeal to younger people with “equality of opportunity” and “getting entitlements under control.”

In other words, Ryan literally has no idea why Trump won. The party Establishment has simply opportunistically grafted its own agenda on top of Trumpism, with the president only occasionally casting off the facade.

  • But Trump has at least forced the party Establishment to not embrace Amnesty—a welcome change from the party consensus of 2013.
Back then, GOP leaders would have easily agreed to delivering a pathway to citizenship for all DREAMers and their parents in exchange for a token amount of border security. Now they insist on full wall funding, serious immigration reforms and no legalization for the family members of Dreamers. It’s an improvement, albeit only a negative one.

Unforeseen events that might get the GOP to act on immigration: if the Supreme Court finally scraps DACA before November; a terrorist attack committed by someone who came here due to chain migration/diversity visa lottery; another high-profile illegal immigrant murder in a sanctuary city.

The first item might shock Congress into doing something on immigration, probably bad; the last two might provoke Trump into forcing his party to do something, possibly good.

Plus, of course, Trump could always have another sh*t hole God-Emperor moment. Maybe he’ll get annoyed at Mexican meddling. Who knows?

We’ll just have to wait and see what the rest of 2018 brings.

But right now, the best bet is on no immigration legislation until next year—and, possibly but not certainly, a drift to GOP defeat in the 2018 midterms.

Washington Watcher [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway.

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