Amnesty Deal Would Be a Huge Win for Trump Foes

If President Trump reverses his campaign promises and supports a DACA amnesty then within the span of a few days he would do to himself what the combined efforts of the Democratic National Committee, the Republican establishment, the Clinton campaign, and an openly hostile media couldn’t do: knee-cap his presidency and separate himself from his base.

Amnesty is where Republican careers go to die. Just ask Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) whose own 2016 presidential run was stillborn because he backed the 2012 “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill after promising voters in 2010 he would do no such thing.

Guess who offered Marco the apple back in 2012? Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). The same Chuck Schumer who is in the process of leading another electorally successful Republican to break faith with his base. But this time it’s the president.

Little did Democrats or establishment Republicans know that in order to separate Trump from the people who elected him, all they had to do was send a New York Democrat to pitch an amnesty bill. Think of all the wasted ink, the needless declamations, and sundry accusations. There was no need for James Comey’s public agonizing or Robert Mueller’s unfettered investigation or the phony Russian hacking and collusion story: just encourage the president to do to himself what his opponents could never do to him. Finesse is often more powerful than force.

Democrats Crow, Internet Explodes
Of course, no one expected that Barack Obama’s unconstitutional Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program could be Trump’s Achilles heel. Trump used to understand the politics of immigration on the Right. In 2013
he tweetedAmnesty is suicide for Republicans. Not one of those 12 million who broke our laws will vote Republican. Obama is laughing at @GOP.” If Trump goes for this deal, Chuck Schumer will be laughing at Trump.

Emerging from a dinner Wednesday night at the White House, Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) crowed they had reached an amnesty deal with Trump. The Internet exploded: Trump’s detractors discovered in him some previously unseen virtue while his supporters reacted to the whiff of betrayal. Then came the half-hearted backpedaling, then the non-denial-denials, and finally the double-talk and dissembling from the White House.

The president took to Twitter to promise that in exchange for amnesty we’ll get “BIG border security.” He also asked his supporters to believe thatThe WALL, which is already under construction in the form of new renovation of old and existing fences and walls, will continue to be built.” Really? The Wall is already under construction? Hours later,  the president confirmed Schumer’s version of the story, saying “The Wall will come later…”

That’s why when CNN reports that a White House spokesman says the Trump Administration “will not discuss amnesty” but “what they will discuss is a responsible path forward,” we all get the joke. When a politician promises that “it’s not amnesty” you can be sure it’s amnesty.

We’ve all heard these arguments before and they’re always the same. The open-borders crowd is always willing to promise money and enforcement in the future for amnesty today. That’s what they’re offering again, but they’re hoping Trump can sell it to the Republican base.

If the president backs a DACA amnesty—as he seems to have indicated he will—then he will have divorced himself from everything that became known as Trumpism. Within a very short time, he will have gone from an America First foreign policy and building the wall to more war in Afghanistan and open borders. Perhaps next we will learn that he has always secretly supported NAFTA.

DACA will be seen as part of a growing pattern of departures from his own campaign promises. Many Trump supporters were willing to give the president a pass on the missile strikes in Syria. They were a reversal of Trump’s promise to extricate our country from taking sides in a winless civil war in the Middle East where there are neither any easily identifiable “good guys” nor a clear national security interest. In isolation, the strikes could be swallowed. Then he expanded the war in Afghanistan and it started to look like a rejection of his own stated policy. It is the nation’s longest war, has cost over $750 billion, 2,500 lives, and what do we have to show for it? The United Nations estimates the Taliban controls more of Afghanistan than they did on 9/11.

Talk Damages Credibility
Now comes DACA. Candidate Trump promised to undo Obama’s blatantly unconstitutional and immoral unilateral DACA amnesty. He delayed. But finally, he acted with a six-month window that put the pressure on Congress. This seemed like a promise belatedly kept and a shrewd political move, forcing Congress to legislate and implicitly knocking Obama for one of his more egregious unconstitutional acts as president.

It could have been a rope-a-dope that relied on Congress being unable to act and then allowed Trump to claim credit for having tried. That’s still possible. And in the abstract, it may even look like good politics.

But even talk of a deal with Schumer-Pelosi-Ryan undermines the president’s credibility with his base. Amnesty violates the central principle that binds together the entire Trump agenda: a high view of the value of American citizenship. It is not a mere policy dispute to be negotiated away in exchange for some other win. It animates every element of the Trump agenda, from antipathy to optional wars to pro-worker economic policy to the deconstruction of the deep state.

Journalists and political pros might be tempted to deduce from this episode what White House faction is ascendant or to decry the loss of Steve Bannon from the West Wing. But the answer is much simpler. The buck stops on the Resolute Desk and with the man sitting behind it.

So like many a Republican before him, Trump may be seduced by the temptation of a few days of muted praise from the mainstream media. But if Democrats and open-borders Republicans get what they want—amnesty—it will be back to the status quo ante. And if that happens, Trump won’t be able to rely on his base, on the people who believed him, who worked for him, who defended him, and who voted for him. Because they will be gone.

The rights of American citizens and the equal, impartial enforcement of our laws—all of them—should not be for sale and voters know it.

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About Chris Buskirk

Chris is publisher and editor of American Greatness and the host of The Chris Buskirk Show. He was a Publius Fellow at the Claremont Institute and received a fellowship from the Earhart Foundation. Chris is a serial entrepreneur who has built and sold businesses in financial services and digital marketing. He is a frequent guest on NPR's "Morning Edition." His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Hill, and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter at @TheChrisBuskirk

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46 responses to “Amnesty Deal Would Be a Huge Win for Trump Foes”

  1. Good summary, Chris. I can’t believe Trump was this gullible. He must have thought his base was half-hearted in its demand that territorial sovereignty and the Rule of Law be re-established. If Trump grants this massive amnesty and his big, beautiful border wall is not completed, he’s toast. As a matter of fact, since he has allowed the globalists become the de facto presidents of the United States (McMaster, Cohn, Kelly and so forth), Trump probably is irrelevant now, an even more castrated George W. Bush. Personnel is policy and the folks who put Trump into office have been removed. Gone with them are the only issues that caused Trump to have a chance of success.

    Hold a mass rally now, Mr. President. I dare you.

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  2. A lot of us were right. There was no good candidate to vote for so we didn’t.

  3. “Not only do a majority, 73 percent, of voters want legislation protecting Dreamers from deportation, a majority want Congress to make that a priority,” said Kyle Dropp, Morning Consult’s co-founder and chief research officer. “Overall, 65 percent of voters say protecting Dreamers should be either an important or top priority for Congress.”

    Sounds like the voters have a somewhat different idea than what Mr. Buskirk claims on their behalf.

    • Yeah, I have a lot of faith in polls these days…LOL

      • Dear Leader helped me to see that I can’t believe anything that doesn’t agree with what I already think.

      • If you’re going to claim the mantle of “the voters” you ought to have some frame of reference beyond “this is what *I* like.”

      • I don’t have faith in polls either, but the way the media and elites have framed the issue, it doesn’t surprise me that a majority of Americans would not want 800,000 “dreamers” deported. The poor kids . . . . What did they do to deserve this . . . . Etc. . . . If he tried to do what the hardcore base wants him to do (which he can’t because the weak-kneed Republicans in congress would NEVER go along), it would prove highly unpopular with most Americans, whatever poll is cited. I will still take Trump over every other loser (they lost!).

      • Yes, I’m sure in these polls the projected costs for amnesty aren’t being mentioned – those who support the legalization are forgetting the projected costs that will follow.

    • sure we want to be fair to dreamers… AFTER the wall is built and a merit based limited immigration system is in place. But if you just ask “is it fair to kick them out, many (but far from all) will say no. More fake surveys.

    • Simpson Mazzoli immigration act of 1986. Likely you knew that already.

    I love it. How’s it feel to learn you’ve been the cuck all along?

    • How’s it feel to want America destroyed? Sorry, I could not laugh at such demented thinking. I am extremely thankful I do not know you.

      • “Destroyed?” You’re getting a bit emotionally overwrought here. I suppose it’s because he jilted you so badly.

  5. Didn’t you HEAR us in 2016 TELLING you this would happen?

    But no, you just went LALALALALALALALALALALALA. And now you’re looking for someone to blame. Try a mirror.

    • So please tell us JUST WHAT EXACTLY the anti-Amnesty, pro-wall, anti-useless-foreign-wars American citizens were to do over the period Jan 2015-Nov 2016? Vote for one of the 16 other Republican candidates who would produce another Bush presidency? – After all, they refused to commit to a wall, had long proved themselves fork-tongued on Amnesty, had always hankered after foreign interventions in the name of ‘nation-building’ and had little to say about disastrous trade deals.

      Suppose you want to purchase a chicken for a home-cooked dinner at your local farmer’s market. Do you listen to the retailers who you know, from past experience, will give you a lot of soft-soap talk but in the end send you a box of vegetables – no chicken – or do you patronise the newcomer with the new stall which is arrayed with chickens dressed for the table and who promises, in return for payment, to send you one?

      • So, one guy says “a wall” and all of a sudden it’s “wall or bust”?

        Jesus wept.

      • What were they supposed to do?
        Get a real candidate. Not pretend that Trump was it.

        He’s a salesman. His supporters just bought a lemon.

      • What was convincing about Trump was his willingness to talk about Mexican crime in the United States, his apparent explicit commitment to building a wall; and ABOVE ELSE BY MILES, the feral detestation his candidacy elicited from all the Establishment/privileged powers-that-be.

        Big Money and its bought and owned lackeydoms – most persons in Congress, most of the mainstream media – LOATHED him from the get go.

        In politics hatred is in direct ratio to an individual’s being seen as a threat.

        If you run for President as the Floridian Zombie Liberation Candidate, you may get a chuckle from the media; but otherwise little coverage and they certainly won’t hate you.

        You only get to be vilified 24/7 in an unending Screech-In of lying, misrepresentation, disgust, venom, if you pose a threat to the power, money, privilege and influence of the Silicon Valley billionaires, Wall St, the banks, big pharma, the energy companies, their support groups and stooges – the political class, the media, the bureaucracy (including the intelligence officials in the Deep State), academe.

        Given how much these all ranted, raved and worked against him, only an idiot or Sherlock Holmes’s cleverer brother Mycroft could have begun to deduce that Trump meant so little of the positions he stuck to throughout his 16-month campaign.

      • I concur, with only one exception.

        I refer to it as silly con valley. Been here since 1st grade, 1966.

        They use to innovate, not any more.

        All it is now : software and guvmint in bed with each other askng,” is it as good for you as it is for me “.

      • Except there wasn’t a “real candidate” who was stronger on this issue than Trump. Keep dreaming, jackass.

    • Have you seen Hillary lately? So have I. Pathetic.

  6. Thank you, Chris Buskirk, for summarizing the shocking turn of position of President Trump in the last 2 weeks. I thought we would at least get through the 2018 election to see if new MAGA leadership emerged in Congress before anything like this would happen. I didn’t expect Congress to pass any of the former Trump agenda in 2017. Wow.

  7. It is too soon to throw in the illegal-immigration towel. Mr Trump cannot push his campaign promises over the finish line without Congress, and with at most 48 votes in the Senate he simply does not have a majority. I give him credit for not giving in and attempting to rule by decree (‘Executive Order’) as his predecessor did.

    Realistically, the President must have the support of at least a few Democrats. If he can wangle a deal on DACA, which, whatever its true merits, most voters see as desireable, then he will be in a better position to bring along the recalcitrant ‘moderate’ Republicans and the Democrats vulnerable in 2018 on issues like The Wall and Tax Reform.

    It is actually encouraging to see Mr Trump playing the game the way Ronald Reagan did with the Democrat majorities in the ’80s. Meanwhile, he’s building his base of support in the hinterlands by showing the flag at two weather disasters. Remember how he disparaged “Little Marco” in the campaign? Well, there was Marco, right beside him in Florida. That’s the way successful Presidents work.

    /L. E. Joiner

    • Exactly. Trump is holding an extremely weak hand and playing it well. That IS partly his own fault: His first priority in late January-February should have been to quietly terrify Congressional and deep state leadership. Instead he set out to ‘make great deals’ with the former and expected the latter to mostly do their jobs as usually they do. But — very few of us saw the changed weather either and now we’re all on the other side of blind sided.

      The great goal now has to be to preserve as much popularity as Trump can because only that will protect him against impeachment. Congress — both parties — hates him and if they can get away with it because he’s unpopular, they’ll use some of Mueller’s illegal garbage (we don’t know details yet but it’ll be there in plenty of time for impeachment right after the 2018 election) and a couple of questionable actions (also now unknown) to force him out of office.

      We’re not going to get a lot of the principled stuff that Trump understood back in 2016 because he has NO allies to help make it happen and he’s standing on sand, himself, with enemies on all sides.

      I too would have appreciated a saint winning the presidency. Trump’s what we got instead and if anyone can name another actual candidate who could both have won AND played a better game as victor I’d like to hear that name. We need to back Trump because he’s the best we’ve got and I think we’d be wise to consider him the best we’re going to see until we start to turn some serious corners.

      • Trump has the veto pen. He does not have a weak hand. Trump lied to you. Why are you surprised?

      • What poor Mr. Trump has been, so far, unable to capitalize on is his support of the people of this country. That is the source of his influence.

    • Trading DACA for “tax reform” is not a deal. It’s cucking.

    • >It is actually encouraging to see Mr Trump playing the game the way Ronald Reagan did with the Democrat majorities in the ’80s.

      You’re more right than you know. On immigration, Reagan got played by the left; he legalized several million and set the stage for our current situation, with nothing in return.

      With both Congress and the White House, the Republicans should be able to pass RAISE, build the wall, and stop DACA. If they – and Trump – are so incompetent as to be unable to accomplish that, then perhaps the “base” will yawn at the next election and sit it out.

      In any case, DACA will add several million Democrats to the rolls, resulting in a permanently Democratic country. Both Trump and Congressional Republicans are insane to want to commit political suicide.

      • With both Congress and the White House, the Republicans should be able to pass RAISE, build the wall, and stop DACA. . .

        But Republicans don’t have the Congress, because they don’t have an effective majority in the Senate. With at least three renegade ‘moderates’ (including the ‘maverick’ John McCain) voting against the President, the nominal 52 vote majority becomes 49. If the base could elect a few more conservative Republicans in 2018, the situation would improve. Until then, how do you propose to get any legislation through?

  8. It’s pretty obvious that John Kelly is now the de facto POTUS.
    The only people who will deny it are the ones who felt comfortable vouching for Trump.
    Trump’s a life long democrat, surrounded by democrats-this outcome should surprise no one. The hits will keep coming.

    The ultimate goal is to polish Obama’s tarnished work.
    See y’all at the primary in 2020.

  9. The establishment GOP has no one but themselves to blame. The PEOPLE voted for Trump and wanted to see his policies put in place. The stupid, self-serving establishment GOP and the “never Trumpers” are shooting themselves in the head by refusing to support him. The inability of Congress to replace Obamacare was the last straw for me. How many years did we hear the GOP complain about it, and when they are finally able to do something about that terrible legislation, they fail. Simply fail. They are pathetic and absolutely no better than the Democrats. AT least Trump has been able to get some conservative judicial appointments through, albeit too slowly thanks to the impotent GOP Congress.

  10. Give up. The initial take was right all along. Trump is a lifelong Democrat with narcissistic personality disorder. He’s clearly sick of being disliked and ready to do anything to have a “win.” He was lying to his voters in an even more cynical way than cucks like Ryan and Romney, who seem to believe some of their own BS, if only for the sake of feeling good about themselves. Trump doesn’t care about anything but Trump. He looked Mary Ann Mendoza in the eye and lied to her. You have to be pathological to do that.

  11. It’s a healthy sign for the republic that even American Greatness now, finally, recognizes that Trump is happy to betray his base.

    When Trump’s “tax reform” eventually makes it into legislation (during the holiday season, of course), no one here should be surprised to most of its benefits will accrue to the establishment and only crumbs left behind for working class voters.

  12. I am not ready to lie down and believe the two liars Schumer and Pelosi. We are a long way from settled on DACA and the wall.

  13. Seriously. Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are the Claire and Francis Underwood of Washington.

  14. The Dreamers get amnesty, then citizenship (since the ACLU et al., will file petition after petition and the US Supreme Court will find that they can’t be denied citizenship), but somehow the enforcement provisions and the Wall NEVER happen – but the billions for the ACA and other welfare state expenses WILL get handed to the US taxpayer via this amnesty and the chain migration of millions to follow it, and the national debt will go into overdrive.

  15. If Trump cuts this deal, he will have gone full-blown native. I see nobody else on the scene or up and coming willing and able to upset the status quo or change the left wing trajectory of the country on a historical scale as his Presidency offered hope for. If to despair is to sin, I am afraid I am a great sinner these days.

  16. As I’ve said elsewhere: Yes, Einstein, let’s multiply Elián González by 800,000 and call it a win.