A follow-up on our analysis from earlier in the week, which decried the embarrassing dysfunction playing out in Washington's ongoing immigration debate. As two DACA-related deadlines approach (one tomorrow, one early next month), optimism for a common-sense compromise appear to be waning. One key Senator is already talking about a temporary punt, the Democratic leader is attacking the president in highly personal terms (while Trump is out dropping the T-word), and the White House Chief of Staff is affirming that the administration will not unilaterally extend the previous White House's temporary (and legally-disputed) DACA program beyond early March -- adding that law-abiding DREAMers would be low-priority potential deportees. And here's the president weighing in:
Any deal on DACA that does not include STRONG border security and the desperately needed WALL is a total waste of time. March 5th is rapidly approaching and the Dems seem not to care about DACA. Make a deal!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2018
Polling shows nearly 7 in 10 Americans support an immigration reform package that includes DACA, fully secures the border, ends chain migration & cancels the visa lottery. If D’s oppose this deal, they aren’t serious about DACA-they just want open borders. https://t.co/XDMcDOr9vM— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 6, 2018
At the risk of beating a dead horse, I'll just repeat that a fair deal that should be acceptable to both parties would extend legal certainty and a path to citizenship for DACA-eligible illegal immigrants who were brought here as young children, while also securing the border with a physical barrier and other enforcement components -- plus some combination of eliminating the 'diversity' visa lottery, shifting from chain migration to merit-based immigration, and universal e-verify to crack down on illegal hiring practices. Democrats reacted to President Trump's initial offer with counter-productive contempt and race-baiting, but his proposal wasn't unreasonable on the merits. I recognize their desire not to surrender too many concessions in a DREAM Act bargain (as they want to keep cards in their hand for a potential round of "comprehensive" negotiations), but not a single element of Trump's request was out of bounds.
Ironically, the least popular piece of his plan is the construction of a border wall, which Chuck Schumer has already put on the table, and as a central campaign promise, is likely a non-negotiable demand from the White House. But to Trump's second point above, a number of recent polls do, in fact, show that the approximate policy balance being sought by his administration enjoys broad support from voters, including a host of the specific agenda items. This isn't really a new development, but -- like on certain other issues -- it's worth repeating because the public debate gets distorted by the media, which tends to side with the Democratic Party's out-of-the-mainstream views. A few notes on public opinion:
(1) Every single poll I can find demonstrates massive majorities in favor of allowing DREAMers to stay in America, with a legal path to citizenship. This is a consensus view, across party lines. Some conservatives may not want to believe this, but it's a well-established fact at this point. The pro-DREAM Act argument has won, resoundingly.
(2) A recent Harvard/Harris poll found robust support for (roughly) the type of deal that Trump is seeking. Here's how Hillary Clinton's former pollster described the results: "Americans believe in compassion for those who are here — especially the “Dreamers” — but also want more merit-based immigration, an end to the lottery and a sensible electronic and physical barrier. In fact, when we asked Americans about a congressional deal like this one, 65 percent said this is a package of reforms that they would favor."
(3) The same survey drilled down on specific issues, partially summarized here by the Washington Times: "[Trump] said skills and ability to assimilate in the U.S. should be weighted over extended family ties. The poll says voters agree by a 79 percent to 21 percent margin. That is even bigger than the 77 percent to 23 percent margin that supports legalization for Dreamers. More than 60 percent of voters said current border security is inadequate, and 54 percent said they support “building a combination of physical and electronic barriers across the U.S.-Mexico border.” Further, 68 percent oppose the 'visa lottery.' So, like it or not, Trump is on pretty firm ground. Incidentally, it shouldn't be surprising that a large majority of Americans do not believe the border is secure. High-profile cases of illegal immigrants killing Americans after multiple deportations (most recently, an NFL player was slain) resonate with people. If criminal aliens can get deported repeatedly, and still get back into the country to commit more crimes, our border is manifestly not adequately protected.
(4) A Monmouth poll out this week shows that 70 percent of Americans believe illegal immigration is a very (45 percent) or somewhat (25 percent) serious problem. More than three-quarters believe DREAMers should be allowed to stay, with more than 90 percent calling it 'important' for Congress to reach a solution. And though a majority (40/57) opposes building the border wall in isolation, a plurality (47/45) leans toward favoring a Trump-style deal, as described in the question wording: "The Trump administration proposed a deal that would offer a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children in exchange for funding a border wall system and restricting current immigration programs." Given the Harvard/Harris results above, I wouldn't be surprised if these numbers tilted more toward Trump if the latter part of that question were more specific.
(5) Another Monmouth result (by the way, here are their tax reform numbers) finds that a lopsided majority doesn't believe that resolving the DACA situation should be tied to the border wall, but that's unrealistic. Republicans won't accept an amnesty without security and enforcement measures to prevent additional illegal immigration, and Democrats simply won't agree to meaningful enforcement unless they have a powerful incentive to do so. Linking the two is the only way to achieve a deal. And as I highlighted the other day, if Democrats are flirting with the idea of forcing another government shutdown in order to press the DACA issue, they might want to reconsider -- especially considering how things ended for them last time:
A majority of Americans, 59%, say it's "not acceptable" for Democrats to block a budget deal until a DACA fix is passed, via new Monmouth poll.— Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) February 5, 2018