Dealing with the Democrats on Amnesty Demonstrates Amnesia

By | 2018-01-29T00:31:19+00:00 January 28th, 2018|
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President Trump rolled out his immigration plan last week in an effort to make the deal of all deals, starting with an offer to Democrats of amnesty for 1.8 million illegal immigrants.

But listening to the high-pitched screeching from the Left, you wouldn’t know the Democrats are getting what they’ve asked for. Consider the responses to Trump’s proposal from a handful of Democrats and leftist advocacy groups.

“The White House is using Dreamers to mask their underlying xenophobic, isolationist, and un-American policies,” said Congressional Hispanic Caucus chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M).

According to Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) the White House proposal “doesn’t pass the laugh test.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tweeted that the White House framework is part of “an unmistakable campaign to make America white again.”

The American Civil Liberties Union called the proposal “hateful,” while the United We Dream advocacy group called it a “ransom note” for Trump’s “white supremacist agenda.”

Understand what’s happening: The Trump White House offered amnesty to nearly 2 million illegal aliens. And yet, according to the Left, that is incontrovertible proof that President Trump is a hateful xenophobe pushing a white supremacist agenda.

These responses reveal a critically important function of immigration politics in America: you cannot negotiate with a party who will settle for nothing less than total amnesty for the entire U.S.  illegal alien population—anywhere from 11 million to 20 million people.

Democrats have proven that on this issue, they are not a party of negotiation. Their reasons for failing to negotiate are deeply cynical, but clear.

Consider that Democrats are demanding a no-strings amnesty for the entire so-called “Dreamer” population, which by some estimates is as high as 3.6 million people. Legalizing this population also provides legal protection for the immigrants who would follow in a chain migration pattern and easily double that number.

Once legalized, these immigrants will represent a key Democratic constituency, particularly in red states that liberals have for years been itching to turn blue: Arizona, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina, among them.

Simply put, the Democrats demand all or nothing on immigration reform because they believe their party’s electoral fortunes depend on it. It is a vile strategy that seeks to prioritize the needs of illegal immigrants over American citizens for partisan gain.

And what would Republicans get? Hard to say. Any deal with Democrats, who only negotiate in the extremes, would provide little if any policy benefit to Republicans and likely wreak lasting damage to longer-term reform immigration efforts.

More dangerous for Republicans, however, is the damage that this futile effort at negotiation will do  to their integrity on fundamental questions of sovereignty and citizenship.

In attempting to please Democrats, President Trump’s proposal (and that of House Republicans) makes serious concessions on amnesty. Trump has crossed a huge rhetorical line with his offer, making it appear that amnesty, even for some, is now acceptable to Republicans.

This is titanic shift for a party that for years has held the line on refusing to grant amnesty for reasons as philosophical as the need to protect the rule of law and the meaning of American citizenship, to the more practical reasons of an overburdened welfare state and the increasing rates of illegal immigration by those incentivized by amnesty.

For Republicans, “no amnesty” has now become “some amnesty.” An open acceptance of “some amnesty” means that this is now the basis for which all future proposals will begin. The results can be nothing good.

But the issue for Republicans is more than just becoming politically bereft. The White House seems to want a deal so badly that they are willing to give away the store—which means exchanging American citizenship for a reversible policy gain.

Using American citizenship in this way — as nothing more than a chit to be traded — debases the meaning of what was once at the heart of our republic. In seeking to trade American citizenship for something as fickle as Senate votes, Republicans are corrupting the sacred trust they have sworn to protect.

As Angelo Codevilla reflected recently, the current immigration debate has brought to the fore the low regard our politicians currently have for the honor and privilege  of citizenship. “Citizenship,” as Codevilla notes, “determines who shall rule, to what ends, and what life among us shall be.” Those who seek to enter America do so for a variety of reasons, and it is incumbent upon our politicians to create a system that prioritizes people who are worthy of the weight.

Republicans must not let their overriding desire to “fix” this problem gut their party of the last vestiges of principle and common sense. The only deal they will be able to strike with Democrats is one that erases any distinction between the two parties on sovereignty, the rule of law, and what it means to be American. No deal is a better than a bad deal, particularly when the stakes are this high.

About the Author:

Rachel Bovard
Rachel Bovard is senior director of policy at the Conservative Partnership Institute. Beginning in 2006, she served in both the House and Senate in various roles including as legislative director for Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and policy director for the Senate Steering Committee under the successive chairmanships of Senator Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) and Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), where she advised Committee members on strategy related to floor procedure and policy matters. In the House, she worked as senior legislative assistant to Congressman Donald Manzullo (R-Il.), and Congressman Ted Poe (R-Texas). She is the former director of policy services for the Heritage Foundation. Follow her on Twitter at @RachelBovard.