Why is the White House betraying conservatives on immigration?

· June 14, 2018  
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Donald Trump
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Update:

Friday morning on “Fox & Friends,” Trump said he would not sign Paul Ryan’s amnesty bill.

Update 2:

On Friday evening, White House principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah released a statement indicating that President Trump supports both the Goodlatte immigration bill and the Paul Ryan amnesty bill.

Daniel Horowitz’s original article is below.


One thing is clear: Democrats will never vote for any meaningful cuts to legal immigration or verifiable and up-front enforcement on illegal immigration. Thus, nothing good – even mixed with an amnesty – will ever pass the Senate through the front door without Trump leveraging his veto against budget bills to get some of his priorities through the budget process. So why would the White House so emphatically sign onto an amnesty and even get other conservatives to support it?

Trump supports both the Goodlatte bill and the [Paul Ryan] GOP compromise bill since they check off all the White House’s policy priorities, and [Stephen Miller, immigration policy adviser to the president] encouraged Republicans to consider voting “yes” on both measures, according to the person who heard his presentation.

The Goodlatte bill is already a compromise. We should never have to give amnesty to anyone in exchange for doing what’s right on sovereignty, especially when it rewards an egregious illegal executive amnesty that was responsible for the worst drug and gang crisis in American history. Yet, in exchange for a number of good provisions on interior enforcement and cuts to legal immigration, the Goodlatte bill offers non-green-card amnesty (renewable work permits) just to the 680,000 individuals who have DACA status and nobody else. Also, anyone with any criminal record, including identity theft, would be disqualified, which, if applied correctly, would disqualify many of those who have DACA status and are up for renewal.

One would expect the president to be stirring up momentum for this bill every day, naming and shaming Republicans who do not support it. Unfortunately, the White House is now promoting the Paul Ryan bill, which would grant open-ended amnesty to anyone brought here at a relatively young age, including many who came after those who got the initial DACA amnesty. It has a muddled configuration of exchanges of visas – cutting some areas of immigration while adding to others, including thousands more children of foreign tech workers, and eliminating any per-country caps on visas.

Some of these provisions, making cuts to certain chain migration categories, would be better than nothing, but they will never pass muster with the Democrats and will not become law. However, once Republicans, including conservatives now being pressured to vote for the bill by the White House, agree to break their pledge on no amnesty, the Left will pocket the amnesty and negotiate down from there.

Also, the leadership bill contains nothing about limiting judicial involvement in immigration. The Goodlatte bill, on the other hand, at least addresses it in part. Unless access to the courts is limited, the Left will throw out every condition on amnesty, enforcement procedures, and even some of the legal immigration cuts. We will be stuck with amnesty only. During the Gang of 8 in 2013, when they were considering some token enforcement measures to buy off conservatives, the truculent and well-funded immigration legal field promised to litigate every provision. And that was before the lower courts began setting so many precedents limiting the power to deport.

This is the opposite of Art of the Deal.

There’s a huge difference between a defined population of those who already got DACA status and an open-ended entitlement of anyone with loose criteria. Any amnesty will essentially shut down all interior enforcement, as everyone will have the presumptive right to litigate his way into DACA status. The presumption will be on the government to prove that the individual is not eligible. This will accelerate the already growing border surge. And don’t think for a minute that only those who fit the criteria will get status. As we revealed from exclusively shared government data, the government was sloppy in documenting and verifying eligibility standards, and thousands got DACA status when they weren’t even eligible.

The pressure to grant DACA status at all costs will only grow stronger once it’s written into law. Anyone who believes that those who came to the country after the cutoff, including those who came as a result of this very DACA amnesty, will somehow be turned down are not paying attention to what has already happened.

Trump should be pushing hard for the Goodlatte bill, implementing as much as he can unilaterally, and then leveraging a veto threat against any budget bill that doesn’t contain those provisions. Remember, although he needs Congress to pass new legislation, Congress needs him to sign budget bills.

Unfortunately, Trump is getting bad advice and is reportedly pushing the large amnesty bill. If he supports that bill, he will get conservatives to support it, and it will pass the House. Once it’s in the Senate, senators will strip the good provisions, and we will be left with the amnesty and a few talking points. As we’ve seen from this president, once “a deal” of any sort is so close to finality, he is very reluctant to threaten a veto, much less issue one. This is what is so dangerous about passing a large amnesty bill out of the more conservative House first and then going to the Senate. The way we defeated the Gang of 8 bill was by starting in the Senate as a bad bill and having the House refuse to take it up.

It’s bad enough that members aren’t being given the option of voting for enforcement only without any amnesty. The fact that the administration is undermining the Goodlatte compromise (which already contains increased visas and guest workers) and getting conservatives to support a strategy that will lead to amnesty without anything in return is unconscionable.

In addition, according to Bloomberg News, GOP House members want Trump to tweet support for the bill before they vote for amnesty because they fear their constituents. It should scare us all that members of Congress feel a simple tweet from Trump is enough to get conservatives to change their principles. Sadly, they are probably right.

The bottom line is that any agreement to continue expanding the amnesty pool without any good-faith commitment from the Democrats to even entertain E-verify, clamping down on sanctuaries, or legal immigration cuts will end as all “bipartisan negotiations” do: amnesty first, a border wave with drugs and gangs second, and enforcement never.

Editor’s note: The introduction to this piece has been updated to add a quote from Bloomberg News.


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Author: Daniel Horowitz

Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.