President Donald Trump’s decision to delay a small-scale deportation operation has created an opening for Sen. Lindsey Graham’s push to swap an amnesty for border reforms, say pro-immigration reformers.
Graham already “is negotiating with [Democratic Sen. Richard] Durbin — [and] he’s not pulling the Republicans together” to present a united front, said Jessica Vaughan, policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies.
On June 19, for example, Graham told Democratic Senators at a committee meeting that he is willing to trade an amnesty to get a border fixes. “I am willing to deal with DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] … We will take a couple of weeks to see if we can find a compromise,” he said.
Trump announced the enforcement delay on Sunday afternoon, amid rising efforts by Democrats to block border reforms or even the implementation of judges’ deportation orders.
At the request of Democrats, I have delayed the Illegal Immigration Removal Process (Deportation) for two weeks to see if the Democrats and Republicans can get together and work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border. If not, Deportations start!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2019
“At the request of Democrats, I have delayed the Illegal Immigration Removal Process (Deportation) for two weeks to see if the Democrats and Republicans can get together and work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border,” Trump tweeted Saturday afternoon. “If not, Deportations start!”
The delay was likely forced by top-level leaks of the deportation efforts, say reformers. Once the details were leaked, officials recognized that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) teams could face difficulties in finding the migrants who have been told by judges to go home. Also, officials worried that the ICE teams would be blocked by groups of pro-migration activists.
But Trump’s tweet widens the danger that Graham and other pro-migration GOP Senators could work with Democrats to push through an amnesty-for-partial-reform deal, said Vaughan. “Lindsey Graham has convinced the president that he needs a couple of weeks to pull together a deal on the asylum reforms with amnesty as the trade-off … [although] it is not clear if the President has drunk the kool-aid or has decided to give Lindsey Graham some working room,” she said.
On June 19, Graham announced he was delayed writing up a border reform bill in the hope of getting a deal with the pro-migration Democrat Senators, led by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), one of the co-authors of the 2013 Gang of Eight “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” amnesty.
But Durbin has little incentive to negotiate a deal that seems to be a win for Trump. Instead, Durbin’s primary incentive is defeating Trump in 2020 — and he is using the migrant rush to blame Trump for the Democrat-caused chaos on the border. During a June 19 vote at the Senate appropriations committee, Durbin said:
We must acknowledge the obvious, that the last two and half years under the President Trump administration have seen our immigration and border security policies in disarray. Despite tough talk and harsh penalties, our southern border is much less secuture today than when Donald Trump took office. In just the last three months, more people have been apprehended at the border than in all of fiscal 2017.
Because of that “disarray,” Durbin added that he does not want to give more funds, needed by the border agencies, to lessen the disarray. “I’m reluctant to provide any funding to this administration to promulgate this chaos,” he said.
“Democrats want to ensure that this crisis lingers for political reasons — more voters for them down the line and something Trump’s base could view as a total failure in 2020,” said RJ Hauman, government relations director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “Democrats want to keep the asylum loopholes driving the crisis, they want to continue catch-and-release,” he told Breitbart.
Simultaneously, Durbin and other Democratic Senators are trying to revive the discredited 2013 “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” amnesty-and-cheap-labor bill which Sen. Graham also helped to draft and pass through the Senate.
On June 11, for example, Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar touted the elite-boosting 2013 bill to Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, saying:
Do you think that comprehensive immigration reform that we passed in 2013 in the Senate that was supported by President [Barack] Obama and blocked by the Republican leadership in the House, do you think that would have helped to prevent from happening with all the funding that was there for the border and also having a much more orderly process for legal immigration?
In any deal with Graham, Vaughan said, the Democrats will push to minimize any changes to the asylum laws which allow a huge number of migrants to overwhelm the nation’s courts with weak claims for asylum. Democrats will also push for passage of their latest “Dream and Promise Act of 2019,” which would give greencards to at least 4 million migrants without even curbing subsequent chain-migration of their relatives. The Dream and Promise act is open-ended because it would give a greencard to anyone who could claim they got into the United States before age 18 and would make it almost impossible for officials to reject false claims, she said.
Graham has sketched his side of the deal, and told Senators on June 19:
If we don’t change our asylum law and Flores [catch and release] decision — thus never stops. The word is out in Central American, particularly that if you can bring a small child to America, you are going to stay …
I am willing to invest in Central America. I am willing to spend $4.3 billion to make the border a more humane situation. I am willing to deal with DACA [amnesty for younger illegals] …
I am not willing to continue the practice that our laws are generating, which is to tell everyone in Central America that the door is open, come. We’re going to postpone our markup that would change this problem by changing our asylum laws and [replace Flores to] give 100 days to process minor children, not 20.
Whether we get there or not, I don’t know, but nobody has tried harder than Senator Durbin. We’ve met with the White House so we’re going to take a couple of weeks to see if we can find a compromise to shut down this flow because if we don’t … you better get ready to do this again, and again, and again, and again.
Graham also told the Senators he wants a law that would allow Central Americans to apply for asylum without leaving their home countries. “All I am asking is that we take asylum claims in-country or in Mexico, to stop the incentive to come here.”
“We don’t discuss negotiations … The hope is to get something signed into law,” Graham’s press secretary told Breitbart. “Right now we can pass something with only GOP votes in committee but won’t have enough (60) to get through Senate. That means the status quo – which is a disaster – continues.”
But Graham’s push faces many problems.
Trump’s deputies are finding no-amnesty fixes to the Democrats’ reform blockade. For example, Trump is using tariffs to pressure Mexico and Guatemala to shrink the flow of migrants into the United States, and his regulators are expected to soon publish a regulation which shrinks the Flores catch-and-release loophole.
Trump’s supporters strongly oppose an amnesty: “We will make one thing clear over the next few weeks — amnesty in exchange for watered down asylum provisions or a couple billion dollar supplemental would be the worst immigration deal of all time,” said Hauman.
A group of GOP Senators is moving against the Durbin-Graham deal, said Vaughan. So far, she said, Graham is “ignoring his Republican colleague and is sidelining them to make a deal with one of the more extremist Democrats,” she said.
Also, many Democrat progressives favor migrants over Americans, and strongly oppose curbs on migration. For example, many Democrats opposed Trump’s planned effort to enforce judges’ deportation orders, Hauman noted. “If Democrats think illegal aliens with final orders of removal (including those who filed an asylum claim and lost) can’t be deported, then who can be? How can the White House even negotiate with them?” he wrote.
For example, Bernie Sanders told CBS’ Face the Nation on June 23 that he opposes Trump’s decision to deport migrants who have been ordered home by judges. “I don’t like this deportation thing at all and I think Trump uses this as a beginning to do worse things to come.”
Trump is also throwing doubt on whether Democrats will allow the nation’s immigration law to be reformed or even enforced. His Saturday tweet announcing the delay also said that the deal “Probably won’t happen, but worth a try,” adding “Two weeks and big Deportation begins!”
In an interview broadcast June 23, Trump also scoffed at Democrats’ claims to want to fix the migration crisis. Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd:
We’re doing a fantastic job under the circumstances. The Democrats aren’t even approving giving us money. Where is the money? You know what? The Democrats are holding up the humanitarian aid … if the Democrats would change the asylum laws and the loopholes, which they refuse to do because they think it’s good politics, everything would be solved immediately. But they refuse to do it. They refuse to do it … If they changed asylum and if they changed loopholes everything on the border would be perfect.
Immigration by the Numbers
Each year, roughly four million young Americans join the workforce after graduating from high school or university.
But the federal government then imports about 1.1 million legal immigrants and refreshes a resident population of roughly 1.5 million white-collar visa workers — including approximately one million H-1B workers — and approximately 500,000 blue-collar visa workers.
The government also prints out more than one million work permits for foreigners, tolerates about eight million illegal workers, and does not punish companies for employing the hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants who sneak across the border or overstay their legal visas each year.
This policy of inflating the labor supply boosts economic growth for investors because it ensures that employers do not have to compete for American workers by offering higher wages and better working conditions.
Flooding the market with cheap, foreign, white-collar graduates and blue-collar labor also shifts enormous wealth from young employees towards older investors, even as it also widens wealth gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, and hurts children’s schools and college educations. It also pushes Americans away from high-tech careers and sidelines millions of marginalized Americans, including many who are now struggling with fentanyl addictions. The labor policy also moves business investment and wealth from the Heartland to the coastal cities, explodes rents and housing costs, shrivels real estate values in the Midwest, and rewards investors for creating low-tech, labor-intensive workplaces.