Democrats are dismissing President Trump's list of conditions for any deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, with Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi complaining that Trump's "list includes the wall, which was explicitly ruled out of the negotiations."
Here's a better idea for Democrats: Instead of rejecting Trump's demands, up the ante.
Schumer and Pelosi should tell Trump that they would be open to the items on his list--including the border wall--if he would agree to legalize not just the "dreamers" but also the vast majority of illegal immigrants who have not committed crimes.
So if Democrats are smart, they will offer Trump this deal: He can have his wall and the other border security measures on his list in exchange for a touchback plan he has already endorsed.
In politics, this is called a win-win: Trump gets to build his "big, beautiful wall" and claim that he got Democrats to back down and approve it. Democrats get their long-held goal of permanent legal status for all non-criminal illegal immigrants currently in the country.
Trump could hardly say no to such an offer: After all, touchback was his idea. He campaigned on it. How can you turn down an offer that gives you virtually everything you asked for?
And what would the Democrats have to concede? They would have to let Trump build his wall. So what? There's nothing inherently wrong with a border wall. Democrats are dug in against a wall today only because Trump wants it. Are Democrats so determined to deny Trump a victory that they would refuse to trade a wall in exchange for permanent legal status for nearly 11 million people?
There would be many difficult details to hammer out in such a deal. But if Trump gets his wall, I suspect much of the rest of his list is negotiable.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower famously said, "If you can't solve a problem, enlarge it." That is what Democrats should do in response to Trump's list of immigration demands. The only reason not to cut a deal is if Democrats care less about finding a solution than they do about having the issue of illegal immigration to campaign on. And that may very well be the case. When Obama was elected president in 2008, Democrats controlled the White House and the House of Representatives, and had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, yet they took zero action on immigration reform.
Now they have a chance. Just as only Nixon could go to China, it may be that only Trump can cut an immigration deal that trades border security for legalization. There is only one question: Is the Democrats' hatred of Trump so great that they can't bring themselves to seize the opportunity?
Editorial on 10/13/2017
Print Headline: Compromise ahead?