What is Trump up to, with his take-it-or-leave-it immigration offer?
For starters, he and his ultra-nationalist domestic policy adviser, Steve Miller, are continuing to play to Trump’s hard-core base. Second, Trump is trying to demonstrate that he’s the boss here.
There are several problems, however.
First, there is no such thing as a take-it-of-leave-it demand in politics. This may work as a ploy when you are negotiating a real-estate deal and you hold most of the cards.
But in politics, negotiations continue and all offers or demands are provisional. Also, Trump's own party in Congress is a major participant in this particular negotiation, and is tired of Trump’s games.
Second, by tying a liberal stance on immigrants currently protected by DACA—Trump would give them and others a path to citizenship—to really nasty crackdowns on other immigrants, Trump manages to alienate both his own base and Republican moderates who support DACA and who want a solution. Breitbart, voice of white nationalism, has taken to calling Trump Amnesty Don.
What’s the end game? It’s very likely the same one that has been on the table for months. The Dreamers get to stay. Trump gets a modified version of his wall, only some of which is a literal Berlin-style wall. And there is a toughening, details to be worked out, of policies on “chain migration” which allows legal migrants to bring in family members such as parents. The visa lottery probably goes.
This is the kind of deal for which there has been majority support in the Senate all along. And even the House, which is more hard-line, Republican members are aware that public support for the DACA Dreamers is immense—upwards of 80 percent—and many members in swing districts will be looking toward protecting their own hides on Election Day.
On the Democratic side, a great deal of the grass roots energy that is producing an expected blue wave election is coming from grass roots progressives—for whom a permanent DACA is non-negotiable. After being double-crossed last time, Democrats in the Senate will be determined not to be rolled, and will be tough negotiators.
There will be a legislative package presented to the president. Will he veto it out of spite? His own party sure doesn’t want that.
Over to you, Amnesty Don.