In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Trump announced his plan for an immigration compromise. Unsurprisingly the plan included money to secure the southern border as well as changes the visa lottery and chain migration that affects who is eligible to come to America legally. The surprising part of the proposal was that it included a 10-12 year pathway to citizenship for those eligible for protection under DACA. On the surface, it would appear to be a compromise that not everyone is going to be thrilled about but could have just enough for both sides that it might just have a chance of getting through the Congress. Unfortunately despite Trump’s willingness to give Democrats what they want on the “Dreamers” political calculus might get in the way.
Comprehensive immigration reform has eluded Presidents and legislators for decades. There have been many “bites at the apple” over the years that never seemed to come to fruition. While this plan is focused on those eligible under DACA and not the rest of the population here illegally, it could face similar problems in getting passed.
At the end of the day I believe that President Trump does not want to see the “Dreamers” deported, so he has offered up a pathway to citizenship for that population, exchange for the other concessions in his immigration proposal. The problem is that I think there is a significant portion of the Democratic party who does not want to give President Donald Trump a “win” on this issue. Ronald Reagan’s 1986 amnesty plan won him and the Republican party a degree of favor amount the population that the plan encompassed. Currently, Democrats and the media love to bring out “Dreamers” to act as spokespeople in attacking the Trump administration and especially his immigration stances. Here in Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer skipped attending the State of the Union address and announced that he would send a DACA recipient in his place. As one of their favorite clubs to whack the President with, I am not sure some Democrats are comfortable with President Trump being the person to sign a law giving a legal status and pathway to citizenship to those protected under DACA, something President Obama was never able to do.
While many of the immigration hardliners are probably not too thrilled with President Trump’s proposal on what to do about DACA, many Americans overall would probably be quite happy with this compromise, provided adequate border security is achieved. Essentially President Trump has offered the Democrats what they asked for, legal status and now even a pathway to citizenship for the Dreamers. I fear their unwillingness to give Trump another legislative victory right as his Presidency seems to be in the middle of an upswing, could prevent them from supporting this plan.
I guess we will see if political self-interest will keep the Democrats from taking yes for an answer.
Jacob Vandever is a life long Oregonian and Oregon State University graduate. Jacob is a political activist and former Republican candidate for the Oregon Legislature.