GOP Activists Predict Defeat as Donald Trump Tilts Towards DACA, More Immigration

Trump Hanging Head Backstage
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President Donald Trump’s drift towards an endorsement of DACA and pro-immigration policies threatens his reelection campaign, says Steven Levy, the former top executive leader of Suffolk County in New York.

“It is not worth abandoning your base over your this,” Levy said in an interview with Breitbart News. “You’re not going to get many votes out of this,” he added.

“How do you justify importing more workers when a good portion of your workers are sitting at home?” asked Levy, who was twice elected as chief executive of New York’s Suffolk County, with 1.5 million residents. “It is absurd … [and] if we don’t push back, he’ll do it.”

“It isn’t to say we’re not grateful for him being the best fighter on the federal level on illegals, but he can’t give up now when he has come so far,” said Levy, who won 96 percent of the Long Island district’s vote for his 2008 to 2012 term.

Levy’s warnings are echoed by lobbyists, staffers, and activists who cheered Trump’s 2016 election on his pro-American platform.

“They’re forgetting who their base is,” said one Hill staffer. “He cannot win unless he gets back to immigration. … [because he won in 2016 when] he was going to cut illegal immigration and curb cheap foreign labor.”

One D.C. lobbyist said:

He won by the slimmest of margins in 2016, and if he is not able to show American white-collars that he is protecting them from outsourcing and tech companies that want to hire cheap foreign labor …. then he loses. Those are the things he ran on in 2016.

The GOP establishment is pushing Trump towards a giveaway partly because they do not want to recognize the spreading economic impact of the coronavirus disaster, said one activist. “It is all about short-term deals … it’s all about the here and now: ‘How can we profit right this minute?’ he said, adding, “nobody in the White House is in touch with ordinary people.”

But campaign officials keep sidelining the issue of immigration, wages, and white-collar jobs as they tout the border wall and protections against illegal migrants:

The focus on illegal immigration provides cover for campaign aides to push Trump towards a legal cheap labor economic policy that imports higher-skilled migrants for the well-paying, white-collar jobs needed by American families. For example, campaign adviser Mercedes Schlapp told Fox News July 12:

 What the President has also been talking about is a merit-based immigration system, meaning that you protect American workers while at the same time bringing in the brightest and the best into our country.

On July 14, Trump told reporters in the Rose Garden that:

In the not-too-distant future, pretty soon I’m going to be signing a new immigration action — very, very big merit-based immigration action … it’s going to be based on merit. It’s going to be very strong.

He also said:

We’ll be taking care of people from DACA in a very Republican way … I’ve spoken to many Republicans, and some would like to leave it out, but, really, they understand that it’s the right thing to do.

That is a fundamental shift from Trump’s 2016 campaign, when he promised white-collar voters in March 2016: “I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program. No exceptions.”

“Middle Amerca got screwed,’ and Trump came along to say, ‘We’re going to stop that.’ and he won,” said Levy, who now runs Common Sense Strategies, a political consulting firm.

But activists and lobbyists say they do not know how far Trump will push for a DACA reboot and for more white-collar migration. For example, on June 22, 2020, Trump followed through on his 2016 H-1B promise by announcing a temporary ban on new H-1Bs and a directive to his staff to rewrite the H-1B regulations to favor the hiring of young American graduates.

Trump’s new focus on DACA and “merit” immigration is keeping him from full-throated support for American jobs and ‘middle-class wages, say the activists and lobbyists.

“He has to stand tough on this, he has to stand tough,” said Levy. If not, he is “going to be abandoned by a lot of ticked-off folks in the base,” he said. Many “won’t vote for Biden, but will stay home.”

Numerous polls show that Trump’s emerging support for middle-class immigration is deeply unpopular. Breitbart reported July 15:

“For example, a June-July Rasmusen poll of 1,810 likely voters showed that 67 percent of all voters said, “no,” to more foreign workers while Americans need jobs. So did 66 percent of people with college degrees, 80 percent of conservative suburban women, 71 percent of moderate suburban women, and 62 percent of liberal suburban women.”

An immigration shutdown is backed by 65 percent of all adults, 67 percent of independents, and 83 percent of Republicans, said a survey of 1,008 adults taken from April 21-26 by the Washington Post. The shutdown is also backed by  76 percent of conservatives, 64 percent of moderates, and by 63 percent of younger people aged 18 to 39, said the Washington Post.

These and other polls show that the public strongly objects to companies hiring foreign workers before American employees. For example, an August 2017 poll reported that 68 percent of Americans oppose companies’ use of H-1B visa workers to outsource U.S.-based jobs that could be held by Americans.

Polls rarely gauge public hostility to replacement migration, which has pushed middle-class Americans out of several million middle-class jobs. Fortune 500 CEOs either transferred their jobs to Indian and Chinese migrants or hired Indian temporary visa workers to move those jobs to India.

But clues about angry middle-class voters show up in many polls. On July 15, for example, a Monmouth University poll of 401 registered Pennsylvania voters shows Trump had the support of only 34 percent of college graduates — while 61 percent backed Joe Biden.

In 2004, President George W. Bush scored 52 percent of the college-graduate vote — but quickly alienated those voters by pushing two amnesty bills.

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