Why do Democrats hate the 'Dreamers' so much?

The U.S. Supreme Court this week let stand an appeals court decision that President Obama’s executive amnesty is illegal under the U.S. Constitution.  This means per the Constitution that immigration law is still set by the Congress passing bills that presidents sign into law.

Among those affected by this decision are the so-called “Dreamers.”  These are people who were brought to the U.S. as young children, sometimes very young children.  Many of these people may be culturally quite American.  They may not even speak the language of the country they are citizens of via the citizenship of their parents.  The “Dreamers” did not break the law coming in to the U.S., as they were too young to have criminal intent.  They did not break the law by staying with their parents until they became of age, as they were minors under the control of their parents.  So they are quite a sympathetic group who might reasonably be expected to generate enough support in Congress to get some relief or a change in status.

But apparently the Democrats care so little for these “Dreamers” that they do not care what happens to them.  That is the only way to explain how the Democrats have acted over the years concerning immigration policy.  The Democrats seem unwilling to give up anything to help this sympathetic group or to build support for legalizing the “Dreamers.”

Back in 2006, after yet another rancorous debate on immigration policy and the failure of a comprehensive immigration bill, the Secure Fence Act of 2006 was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush.  The 2006 law provided for a two-layer fence on the southern border.  Rather than give the supporters of more secure borders a victory and build the fence, Washington and particularly the Democrats have blocked completion of the fence, amending the original law a year later and arguing that a fence on the southern border is wasteful and will not work.  In 2011 when President Obama was saying the fence was “now basically complete,” just over 5 percent or 36.3 miles of the originally legislated 700-mile double-layer fence was completed.

It is not as though a wasteful non-working fence on the southern border would be the single wasteful thing the government ever did.  It is not as though a non-working fence would be the first non-working thing the government ever built.

When you engage in negotiation with someone you expect to negotiate again with later, you know you had better follow through with what you promise.  If you don’t, you know that the other party will be very hesitant to negotiate or reach additional agreements with you in the future.  So with the legislated border fence not complete a decade later, naturally the opponents of illegal immigration hesitate to give up anything even on a sympathetic issue like the “Dreamers.”  This act of bad faith also has implications in presidential elections, but that is a story for another column.

A comprehensive immigration bill still seems highly unlikely at this time.  Still, there might be room to negotiate on smaller issues like legalizing “Dreamers” in exchange for some concession from the other side like an end to anchor babies, provided that a way to end anchor babies that satisfies the courts can be found.  But, of course, the scorched earth, no quarter given behavior of the Democrats on the border fence means that the opponents of illegal immigration are very hesitant to have their representatives negotiate on any issue concerning immigration.  So nothing gets done even for a sympathetic group like the “Dreamers.”

So why won’t the Democrats give the opponents of illegal immigration a fence they were promised legislatively?  Since Democrats generally claim that border fences will not work, why are they not happy to give their opponents a Pyrrhic victory of a double-layer border fence with a big ribbon-cutting ceremony?  That would also help them with part of the Democrat base: union members and the working poor.  It is not as if the Democrats are fiscal conservatives or dislike government and government spending.  The Democrats apparently do not care enough about the “Dreamers” to give an inch on immigration on any front to build support to legalize them.  One is left to conclude that the Democrats hate the “Dreamers.”

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