The position the president presents on immigration over the next week will define his presidency. He will either suffer a “read my lips moment” on steroids, or he will rejuvenate his base and put Democrats on defense by standing for Americans first. Which one will it be? If it’s the amnesty route, Republicans will be routed in the midterms.
Conservatives should gird for battle. Trump announced that he’d be releasing an immigration framework on Monday. Given that the Goodlatte bill already has everything conservatives want plus a limited amnesty, what more is there to do? Why not just embrace the House bill?
Let’s just analyze what the president said publicly last night. He talked about an amnesty that “morphs” into citizenship in 10-12 years and also suggested that if there is no deal by his arbitrary March 5 deadline, he can extend it. “I certainly have the right to that, if I want,” said Trump when asked about the extension by reporters.
No, you cannot, Mr. President. You can’t say this is unconstitutional and then proceed to ratify it. As much as I’m revolted by Judge Alsup who mandated judicial amnesty, he did have one valid point when he observed this inconsistency in Trump. Trump’s mistake was continuing the amnesty for the first nine months of his presidency and then allowing some extensions for another six months. He lost the moral high ground on the argument.
12-year pathway will become 3-5 years
On the next point, that he is open to a path to citizenship in 10-12 years, does anyone think for a minute that once amnesty is enacted, it will stay at a 12-year path? If there is this much political pressure among the elites (not the people) to legalize people who are 100 percent illegal, one can only imagine how much power they will accrue once they are 100 percent legal. It will be a cakewalk to “morph” the 12-year path into a truncated path, which will turn Florida and Arizona blue by the time Mike Pence seeks the presidency.
Besides, this is not what Trump promised us. He spoke very clearly at the famous Phoenix rally on August 31, 2016, when he promised that the days of people coming here illegally to get citizenship are over. He declared with intrepid clarity that “anyone who tells you that the core issue is the needs of those living here illegally has simply spent too much time in Washington.” And he said unequivocally that he would “immediately terminate President Obama’s two illegal executive amnesties in which he defied federal law and the Constitution to give amnesty to approximately five million illegal immigrants, five million.” He also promised to end catch-and-release, a phenomenon that of course has not ended one year into his presidency.
Thus, even before knowing this next Trump offer, we know he has already violated his campaign promises by making amnesty “the central issue,” an imperative, and a promise – to the point that he’s willing to extend it illegally. Sure, he is giving voice to some of our other priorities, but only as an elective to the main course of amnesty. He must reverse course.
Moreover, how can Trump agree to any amnesty without first enacting judicial reform? Trump is painfully aware of the fact that courts are now granting rights to illegal aliens at breakneck speed and blocking deportations even of criminal aliens when statute is clear as day. Once he agrees to change the law, everyone will have the right to present their case to see if they are eligible for “Dream” status. Courts will grind almost all deportations to a halt in no time. We will have a flood at the border and a perennial cycle of border surges and judicial amnesties.
Amnesty for border wall funding is no deal at all
One of the latest rumors is that Trump would forgo his demands on chain migration, interior enforcement, sanctuary cities, asylum and UAC reform, and an end to catch-and-release, if they just give him the darn $25 billion for the border wall. The president must understand that this is a repeat of the same Schumer trap from 1986.
While a border wall is an important component of blocking one dimension of illegal immigration, any promise for immediate amnesty in return for long-term funding is no deal at all. You must trade statutory changes for statutory changes, not for funding. Building a wall is a long-term project, and Democrats can easily shut off the funding when they win back Congress and the presidency. And indeed, if Trump agrees to amnesty, the Democrat takeover of Congress will be assured.
Doesn’t any Republican learn from history? Border security, when promised after an immediate amnesty, is a joke. Remember, we never had employment enforcement, we never had visa exit-entry implemented, and despite the 2006 Secure Fence Act, we didn’t get the wall. In fact, this is exactly what played out last time Democrats controlled Congress. Before Bush could construct more than 36.3 miles of the promised 854-mile double-layered fence, Democrats took over Congress and gutted the bill in the 2008 omnibus spending bill. Then Obama became president and completely halted construction.
Thankfully, conservatives successfully blocked the 2006 amnesty, so there was no wall and no amnesty and the status quo prevailed. But were Trump to agree to immediate amnesty, most of the wall will never be built because Democrats will win Congress.
This is where the Goodlatte bill comes into play. On the one hand, the Goodlatte bill is already a major compromise, because, following the dramatic failures of the past seven amnesties, we should not offer another amnesty at all. And we certainly should never do amnesty before the implementation of enforcement, as is the case even with the Goodlatte bill. However, the saving grace of the Goodlatte bill, unlike previous offers, is that it makes immediate and systemic statutory changes to both legal immigration and interior enforcement, making a minimal quasi-amnesty for 700,000 worth it in the long run. Border security can be toyed with, but statutory changes to our system cannot (for the most part).
Time to #KeepYourPromise
President Trump promised at the end of his Phoenix campaign speech that “border crossings will plummet. Gangs will disappear.”
Indeed, during the first four months of his presidency, border crossings plummeted, presumably on the perception that he would enforce our sovereignty and end the promise of amnesty. Yet once he began emoting about a mythical categorically virtuous population of “dreamers,” the crossing of family units with children rose by 600 percent from May through December. And no, many of these people coming from Central America are not the best and brightest and have ties to gang members, as Trump’s DHS confirmed. There is a gang crisis in places like Long Island, NY, an area Trump is familiar with, as a result of DACA. The reality is that the younger population is particularly more prone to criminal activity than the older population.
If the president is going to buy the “no fault of their own” argument, then is he prepared for the inevitable political demand, and possible court-mandated demand, to categorically amnesty the new flow from Central America since 2014 and the even newer one his amnesty will spawn?
Hasn’t the time come for an American president who finally recognizes that, while some illegals have come here of no fault of their own, it is certainly of no fault of the American taxpayers who must suffer from the fiscal, cultural, and criminal harm in their communities, schools, and public programs? The best way to honor his commitment to the American people and also to ensure that no new illegals are brought here “of no fault of their own” is to finally end the vicious cycle of amnesty.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.