by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Republican party is clearly split on DACA: Some Republicans opposed Obama’s executive amnesty on the grounds that it was created unconstitutionally; others opposed it on the grounds that no group of illegal immigrants should be granted blanket amnesty. Normally, the president would craft a policy based on his own position, then attempt to cobble together support. If the president wanted a legislative cementing for DACA, he’d make that clear to the right wing of his party, offer them sweeteners in the form of something like a border wall, and threaten consequences if they disobeyed him. Instead, Trump is trying to play both sides: He’s trying to signal that he’s tough on immigration to his base, but he’s simultaneously signaling that he wants to allow the DREAMers to remain in the country.
The result: Congressional Republicans don’t know which way to jump. If they trade DACA for a border wall, they can’t be sure Trump won’t smash them publicly for caving on DACA; if they don’t, they can’t be sure Trump won’t smash them for failing to protect DREAMers. Trump’s own vague position means that Congress can’t feel safe taking a strong position.
This means that Trump’s latest attempt to kick the can to Congress will end up backfiring if Congress fails to act. Then Trump either will be left attempting to appease his base by actually killing DACA in six months, or he’ll be forced to personally stamp DACA with his own imprimatur.