by Rod D. Martin
September 4, 2017

Should the President bargain on DACA?

Short answer from this red-meat conservative: probably.

Let’s start with the obvious: DACA is horribly illegal and unconstitutional, an example of Barack Obama’s rule by “pen and phone”, which is to say by fiat. It was a dictatorial act designed to increase the voting base of the Democrat Party, nothing more, nothing less.

On the other hand, I find myself much more interested in that aspect of DACA than in the policy itself. It mattered a lot more when it was one of many such actions intended to undermine our system of government, even more still when we were faced with the prospect of eight additional years of Hillary Clinton ratifying Obama’s rule-by-decree both with her own decrees and her own Supreme Court majority.

DACA in isolation is bad policy, but is not a hill on which to die. To the degree that it benefits the more-or-less innocent (and more-or-less is about the best we can say for many of them, because many of them aren’t innocent at all) who were brought here by criminal parents, a legislatively legitimate version of DACA might constitute compassion and might make some sense. We shouldn’t push that point too far, as some do: would it have been right for Bernie Madoff’s kids to profit by his crimes just because they were themselves innocent? Certainly not. But still, it’s not as though there aren’t two sides to this sad story.

So the question is: what could the President get if he bargained DACA repeal away?

He’s already creating this opportunity, in case you’ve missed it. If it’s true that his plan is to end DACA, but with a six-month delay, that either (1) gives affected parties time to make their needed arrangements, or (2) gives Congress time to do something to keep them from needing to do so.

But Donald Trump doesn’t give anything away for free.

Normal Republicans do nothing else but. I just watched a former Mitt Romney aide make the case on Fox that Trump should cave on DACA, Congress should pass their own version of DACA, and no one should attach border wall funding to the bill because “that would be too controversial.”

These people are too pathetic to live.

No, Donald Trump should throw this ball out there and see what Congress offers. The Democrats say they care about DACA. Paul Ryan says he cares about DACA. Let’s see how much they care. Literally. Do they care to the point of fully funding the wall? Do they care to the point of passing the President’s outstanding merit-based immigration reform plan, which would vastly improve both the quality (up) and quantity (down) of legal immigrants? Do they care to some additional point Trump might squeeze out of them? Tax reform maybe? Repeal and replace?

There’s a deal to be made here. By adding the six-month delay, Trump is giving Congress a chance to act, but he holds all the cards: whatever Congress does, it won’t do it with a veto-proof majority. So they can either deal, or they can see DACA disappear.

Either way Trump wins. As usual. And as usual, America wins with him.