The deal that President Donald Trump is discussing with Democrats, which would allow Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients to stay in exchange for more border security, is one Republicans have rejected for the past decade.
From the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, to the “Gang of Eight” bill in 2013, Republicans have turned down bills that do not put border security before legal status for illegal aliens.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who has led immigration reform efforts on the Republican side, told conservative voters in 2008 that he had heard their objections, and understood them. In a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) shortly after clinching the Republican nomination for president, McCain declared that he would henceforth adopt an approach that put border security before legalization.
From the New York Times transcript:
On the issue of illegal immigration, a position which — (boos) — which — (cheers, applause) — a position which obviously still provokes the outspoken opposition of many conservatives, I stood my ground, aware that my position would imperil my campaign.
I respect your opposition, for I know that the vast majority of critics to the bill base their opposition in a principled defense of the rule of law. While I and other Republican supporters of the bill were genuine in our intention to restore control of our borders, we failed, for various and understandable reasons, to convince Americans that we were. I accept that. And I have pledged that it would be among my highest priorities to secure our borders first — (cheers, applause) — to secure our borders first. And only after we have achieved widespread consensus that our borders are secure would we address other aspects of the problem in a way that defends the rule of law and does not encourage another wave of illegal immigration. (Applause.)
In 2013, Republican leaders tried again, acting on the assumption that immigration reform was the key to restoring their party’s electoral fortunes. But the “Gang of Eight” bill also failed to put border security first, a problem that its Republican point man, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), struggled to explain away. The Trump-Pelosi-Schumer plan on DACA repeats that error. Worse, it puts funding for the border wall after agreement on DACA — the wrong order.
This is an argument that the Republican Party has been having with itself for more than ten years, and its outcome has already been decided. If anything, Democrats should have to wait longer for any kind of legalization provision in a DACA deal, to punish them for supporting President Barack Obama’s illegal and unconstitutional methods in creating the program in the first place.
Trump’s proposal is bad for the country, and will be fatal for him, politically.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.