What Underlies Trump’s “Compromise” Offer

Dear Group,

Always remember the Republican’s biggest fear: that brown people become citizens and able to vote. Trump, one hopes, jumped the gun by activating the nativist base to get elected. He thought this base would be all he needed to push his anti-immigration crusade over the top and exclude for the long term the threat of brown people becoming citizens and voting against Republicans. His nativist base (and the greater Republican Party) is now doubly invested. They have taken ownership of the full-on, anti-immigrant brand, anti-refugee, anti-legal immigration (except Norwegians), and anti-DREAMER, the latter a group for which many have sympathy. For many seeking refuge and many who have lived among us, contributed to society, and paid taxes for years (but are not yet citizens) the Republican Party is now an adversary. The result: the Republicans are ever more dug in and ever more determined never to offer citizenship for the DREAMERs or any brown people. Lacking compassion…or decency…, the Republicans use their threats to deport the DREAMERs as a bargaining chip. “We won’t kick them out of the country, at least for a few years, if you….” or “We might offer the DREAMERs some sort of complicated ‘legal status’, if you…” This is hostage taking. 

Listen and read carefully every time you hear a Republican offer anything that might help the DREAMERs. You will never see in their proposals an offer of a functioning pathway to citizenship. The DREAMERs came to this country through no fault of their own as children and have lived here as tax-paying citizens for years. Breitbart, Ann Coulter, and the Republican base are already screaming “Amnesty!” at Trump’s Saturday offer of the best compromise he can muster: a promise not to go forward deporting the DREAMERs for three years. “Amnesty” for the screaming Trumpian base is somehow construed as an issue of “fairness,” that somehow letting the DREAMERs out of bondage is “unfair” to those who, as adults, came legally. (How very Old Testament of them. . Apparently, the “sins of the fathers [Exodus 20:5],” their parents bringing the DREAMERs to the U.S. illegally [often by overstaying a visa], are to be visited on the children,,,and the children punished…with deportation from the only country they have known.) 

Last summer McMorris Rodgers helped craft a bill within her own Party (of which she was then a supposed “leader”) to strike an immigration bargain. It failed spectacularly, 121 Yea to 301 Nay with 112 of her fellow Republicans voting “Nay.” Her bill offered a select group of DREAMERs “permanent legal status,” She seemed surprised at her mini-townhall at Greenbluff when I asked her to clearly state the bill offered no path to citizenship. She’s in a tough spot. She’d like to groom her sympathetic mom brand, but her base might turn on her if she offers any long term help to the hostages her Party so delights in threatening with deportation. [For more on CMR and her bill read CMR’s Immigration Duplicity.]

The DREAMERs deserve a path to citizenship. They will not be offered one until the Presidency and the Congress are out of the hands of Republicans. Until then Republicans will use the DREAMER’s issue to rile their nativist base. 

Trump’s Saturday “compromise” offer to get his border wall funding was dead before it was all out of his mouth. A three year lull in his and his Party’s effort to deport the DREAMERs, keeping them from one day voting against Republicans, this lull offered as a “compromise,” is an insult to our intelligence. Furthermore, for all his pandering to them he can’t even get his base to dampen their desperate xenophobia. 

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. Remember Republican hand-wringing in the early years of Obama’s presidency, the Jeb Bush and other relative centrists talking about wooing the hispanic vote? One wing of the Republican Party worried out loud that demographic trends would make white men a minority and corrode their support? The other wing of the Party decided to buck those trends by demonizing and excluding immigrants. That wing won. Trump’s election, riding in on the votes of racist, anti-immigrant wing of the Republican Party, marked a takeover from Republicans who at least mouthed words suggesting unity and compromise. Trump flipped the switch to the most rabid, denigrating, partisan politics we’ve seen in our lifetimes. This has long brewed on the right. The question of our time is whether Trump and the Stephen Millers of his Party flipped the switch before enough groundwork was laid. Can they leverage their success into a durable power grab?