Should the Democrats push hard on the Dream Act, fighting hard for those who need them and never giving up? Or should they bide their time, crafting whatever small deals they can to save as many people as possible?
There is nothing more repugnant than to put the words “play” and “DACA” in the same sentence, yet that is where we are. We have to know how to play DACA in order to do as much of the right thing as we can. There’s nothing new about this, given that all legislation has to be “played” through the system in Washington. The problem with DACA is that it has become an oversized issue full of pointless symbolism, stripped of its real essence.
This is about the lives of hundreds of thousands of good, decent, and innocent people.
Where we stand right now is that a (very) temporary provision to keep the lights on in government was passed with a promise to revisit DACA with a clean bill before 5 February. In essence, this issue was stripped from the arguments over the continuing resolution, which was only reasonable. The Senate essentially said no to brinksmanship.
Well, not exactly “no,” something more like “until later.”
Many Democrats considered this to be a complete sellout. After all, the Senators gave up their key leverage for nothing more than a promise, and good faith has been woefully hard to come by in Washington. This is a reasonable point, driven by genuine fear for the life and safety of the 800,000 people affected by DACA. In short, the reasoning is that we should not be gambling with people’s lives.
I can accept this argument, as it goes to the heart of the problem. Yet we have to give this time, I think.
There is little doubt that a majority of Republicans support DACA, and for that matter immigration generally. Trump, himself, has used immigrant labor many times as a businessman and almost certain has some good words on coming to America from his Scottish immigrant mother. Absent any politics this would almost certainly not be an issue.
But during the darkest days of shutdown brinksmanship, the volume was turned up on this issue. “Democrats care more about illegal immigrants than Americans!” said the talking points. It became us versus them, Americans versus immigrants, winners versus losers …
… no, sorry, it became “We all lose,” like all brinksmanship. But I digress.
The Republican party managed to back themselves into a corner. It’s very hard for them to do the right thing, given what they went through. The only possible hope for Republican backing is to wait a moment, let the noise level come down, and create an environment where they can do what they wanted to do in the first place.
Is that what happened? Perhaps.
Since the “big sellout,” Trump has offered permanent status to 1.8 million people in exchange for funding of his wall along the Mexican border. It comes with a lot of strings, but it is progress. It’s probably best to let this sit for a moment and see if the volume stays down. There may be more to come.
A “working group” of 40 Senators is crafting something right now as well. It’s clear that there is indeed a majority in the Senate who want to do the right thing on DACA. It’s a matter of giving the Republicans room to back down from their rhetoric.
Did the Democrats sell out immigrants, especially DACA recipients? We can’t tell yet. The short answer, without knowing exactly what’s been said between Senators, is no. It’s impossible to tell until the final bill comes through just what is going on. Whether we like it or not, we have to trust our leadership.
Meanwhile, the disgusting spectacle of the lives of hard working and decent young people being used as a political football continues. That is the real shame in all of this.