Unfortunately, this should come as no surprise.
The Senate did take up immigration, and the Democrats went further than I would have wanted, even offering money for Trump’s ludicrous border wall in exchange for legal status for the Dreamers. But that compromise failed because the White House also demanded huge cuts in legal immigration as a condition of any deal. That absurd demand was enough to destroy any possibility of a bargain.
As Chris Hayes put it:
1) The President ended DACA unilaterally.
2) He then said: work out a bi-partisan bill I’ll sign anything you bring me.
3) He was promptly brought a bi-partisan deal. He rejected it.
4) He was then brought a *second* bi-partisan deal with even more support. He rejected *that*
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) February 15, 2018
As I said last month, I don’t believe that forcing another government shutdown is or was the answer. We have near-zero leverage over the Republicans via that route; they’re perfectly happy to wreak havoc on the government and destroy the lives and livelihoods of federal employees.
But I don’t know what the solution is. The unpalatable answer may be that there isn’t one, not while Congress is controlled by the party of white resentment and the White House is occupied by a racist. No reasonable bill could hope to pass both houses of Congress and overcome a veto. The disaster for the Dreamers was sealed on election night.
Whatever the Republicans claim they want, the fact is that they’re committed as a party to maintaining white dominance as long as possible. They want to keep as many black, Hispanic, and non-white people as possible from immigrating, from becoming citizens, and especially from voting. Look past the smoke and mirrors: If they truly wanted to legalize the Dreamers, they could pass a standalone bill to do that at any time. They haven’t, because it’s not what they want.
But the dead giveaway is demanding cuts in legal immigration. And it’s not just Trump who wants this; a Republican bill in the House and a corresponding proposal in the Senate would slash legal immigration by almost 40% in 2019, and even more over time. Even more shocking, the Republican bills would cancel the applications of millions of people who’ve been waiting for years to immigrate legally. Even the libertarian Cato Institute sees the obvious:
In the entire history of the United States, the only policy-driven cuts in legal immigration that rival the effects of these bills were the Emergency Quota Act of 1921 and the Quota Act of 1924, which cut the number of legal immigrants by 496,000 in 1922 and 413,000 in 1925, respectively. Congress enacted these laws to keep out Italians and Eastern Europeans, specifically Jews, and were used throughout the 1930s to prevent the entry of German Jews.
On all its fronts, the Republican agenda reeks of racism and white supremacy. They’re not even trying to hide it. Why would you care about slashing legal immigration unless your goal is a white America, full stop?
The GOP made some tiny, tentative steps toward inclusion in the George W. Bush era (granted, by trying to reorganize the party around Christian supremacy rather than white supremacy). But Trump killed that strategy dead, by offering the party’s base of resentful, racist white voters what they always really wanted. Now the rest of the Republicans are being dragged along in his wake. Even if some of them see the disaster he’s leading them into, they don’t have the courage or the character to oppose him.
With the racist faction in power, the U.S. is becoming an unrecognizably cruel and frightening place. ICE agents have raided hospitals, courthouses, and even private homes, all tactics seemingly intended to sow terror. Conservatives may occasionally react with dismay when one of the “good ones” is swept up by their dragnet, but on the whole, a papers-please, whites-only America is what they want.
And again, all this came about because of a Republican desire to punish the Dreamers, whose only fault was being brought to this country as children. This is the only home they’ve ever known. They’re American in every sense but the paperwork. To deport them to a foreign country is beyond cruel, it’s evil. The Dreamers who came forward in good faith, trusting that some solution would be found for them, are now in a horrible predicament.
If I were in that situation, I’d seriously consider dropping off the grid and going underground, Anne Frank-style. There are plenty of blue sanctuary cities and jobs in the informal economy that pay in cash. I wouldn’t show my face in public again or willingly have any contact with the government until this crisis has passed.
If there’s any justice or wisdom left in this country, the American people – who are, in general, more diverse and more compassionate than recent election results suggest – will sweep these monsters out in a landslide in the next election. Then again, Trump campaigned on a promise to do everything he’s now doing, and that didn’t motivate enough people of conscience to vote against him. Is it foolish optimism to believe that things will be different the next time?