Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Can Trump do an Immigration Deal?

The basic outlines of a bipartisan immigration deal have been clear ever since Reagan did the first one back in the 80s: tougher enforcement of border controls and employment checks in exchange for lenient treatment of some group of people already here. But lately many Republicans have refused to sign onto any deal because they just don't believe anyone else is serious about controlling the border, leaving them feeling like they're accepting amnesty in return for nothing.

Trump dropped hints yesterday that he might be willing to do such a deal, and Charles Krauthammer called this a "Nixon to China" moment. The idea would be that if anyone can convince anti-immigration Americans that this is the best deal they're going to get, it would be Trump. I imagine the deal would include Trump's "wall," tougher treatment of people caught trying to sneak in, immediate expulsion for any immigrant convicted of a serious crime, etc., in exchange for the provisions of Obama's Dream Act – which allows immigrants who were brought here as children to become citizens if they graduate from college or serve in the military – and maybe permanent residency for a few million of the illegal immigrants who have been here the longest and put together the best records.

If Trump can pull this off, I will be impressed, because it won't be easy. And I wonder how much it would cost him with his most ardent supporters?

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

Yes, because a deal with Trump never turns out badly for anyone ever, right?

Remind me - how many times has the man declared bankruptcy? Four now? How many of his product lines have failed catastrophically? How many thousands of vulnerable people did he swindle with that scam "University" of his? Where is all his money mysteriously coming from these days if not from the Russians, and why is he unwilling to release his tax returns?

How do people still remotely consider this man to be a good businessman or any kind of a "deal maker"? Why would anyone who isn't already firmly in his support base ever, even for a second, consider trusting him and striking a "bargain" with him?

Trump just ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create a new government office dedicated solely to investigating crime carried out by illegal immigrants. Think about that rationally for a moment. It doesn't make any sense.

We already have a law enforcement system that handles all crimes carried out by all individuals. Why do we need a separate system focused solely on crimes carried out by a specific (and conveniently powerless and socially demonized) minority segment of the population?

What special conditions would rationally justify the creation of such a unique office? Immigrants actually commit crimes at significantly lower rates than full citizens do, and there are a lot fewer immigrants in the country than non-immigrants. And the small number of crimes immigrants do commit are not materially more extreme or disruptive than the crimes of others. So what other reason is there to create such an office?

Well the answer is obvious: to serve Trump's political interests. Demonizing immigrants creates an easy scapegoat to blame that can't fight back effectively, and produces a false "threat" or "enemy" which can be pointed at to help rally and unify his fragmented supporters, and to justify his future actions.

Such a political strawman, once erected, could even help Trump to make "deals" with people who ordinarily would oppose him, and convince them to compromise on their moral values and ignore their better judgements. "Allow us to oppress the illegal immigrants just a little bit, to make the Breitbarters and the KKK happy so they settle down, and we absolutely promise we'll stop there, draw a line in the sand, and never, ever cross it! Deal?"

It's like Neville Chamberlain and his policy of appeasement. The Reich is breaking treaties and international law, defying national sovereignty, and making open overtures of war and attrocity? Well I'm sure if we just cut a deal with them, it'll all work out. We'll agree to turn a blind eye and let them carve up and annex some of their neighbors, and they'll agree to stop there and not go on to invade and conquer even more of Europe. I'm sure they'll keep their end of the bargain! After all, they just signed a Treaty in Munich - and it's not like they've literally just proven they have absolutely no qualms about breaking one of those!