Dems miscalculation on DACA will cost them down the road
With about a month to go before protections for DACA recipients expires, Democrats are once again trying to use the issue as leverage in talks to keep the government operating past Thursday.
The House has scheduled a vote for Tuesday on another continuiing resolution and as Democrats did in January when the government was facing a shutdown, they are insisting that no funding bill will be passed with their support unless it includes protections for 800,000 illegal aliens eligible to avoid deportation under an Obama executive order.
But the two sides are far apart on an immigration bill, with Republicans demanding that any DACA legislation be coupled with billions more in immigration enforcement funding, including money for a wall along the southern border.
Last time, Democrats severely overplayed their hand as the argument that a shutdown would be the GOP's fault never caught on. Once they realized that, the jig was up and they were forced to vote for the temporary funding bill.
But this enraged their radical base and while the politics of the shutdown haven't changed, Democrats risk severe damage if they insist on including DACA and fail to deliver.
Trump has offered the Dreamers a path to citizenship, but only on the condition he also gets funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as other immigration-related measures that Democrats oppose.
Last month, he proposed letting 1.8 million Dreamers stay in the country and become citizens in exchange for $25 billion for the wall, curbs on family-sponsored immigration, and an end to a visa lottery program.
Some lawmakers want Trump’s four-part immigration framework pared back, while others want it approved or made even more strict on future immigration.
“If we can solve DACA and border security that may be the best I can hope for,” Senator John Thune, a member of the Republican leadership, told reporters at the retreat.
Senator James Lankford was among Republicans who said this week that Trump could give Congress more time to reach a deal by extending the Dreamers’ deadline beyond March 5.
Trump reiterated on Thursday at the retreat that all four components of his framework must be included in a deal, a stance viewed as unworkable by many lawmakers in both parties.
Some Republicans say the March 5 deadline lost its power last month when a federal court blocked the rescinding of DACA. That meant the law would remain in effect until the Supreme Court resolves the case, which is unlikely by March 5.
In a research note, financial firm Height Analytics set the odds of another shutdown next week at 65 percent.
Republicans are trying to call Democrats’ bluff on DACA, but the Democrats look even more willing to allow a shutdown than they were last month, the analysts said. “What this has become is a very absurd game of chicken,” they said in the note.
Also working against the Democrats are DACA recipients themselves. Their protests in favor of getting a path to citizenship have demonstrated a breathtaking arrogance. It isn't enough that they become legalized. Now they must have a path to citizenship, putting Democrats in an awful position. It's likely that no deal on DACA will satisfy them.
That said, while it might appear Democrats have leverage, they really don't. With a month to go before Trump's deadline on legalizing DACA illegals, Democrats once again will be unable to explain why they need to shut the government down now. Most voters don't see their point, which means they are likely to cave again after a few days.
In January, there were calls from left wing activists to primary Democrats who voted funds for the government without the DACA rider. One mega donor, Tom Steyer, announced he wouldn't fund any Democratic party organizations after their DACA failure. The party itself is broke and prospects for raising enough cash to takeover the House and maybe the Senate in November are not good.
This will be a very hard week for Democrats as they will be under enormous pressure from Republicans as well as their base. Caught in the middle, they may decide to punt the ball and hope they can reach a DACA deal before the March 5 deadline.