South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham is proposing a bill to grant legalization to so-called “Dreamers,” the immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children. For the past few years, the “Dreamers” have been allowed to remain in America under an executive order issued by President Obama that’s exempted them from deportation.
While running for president, Donald Trump pledged to undo that executive order as part of his crackdown on illegal immigration. However, now that he’s president-elect, he’s singing a different tune. Trump recently said in an interview with Time that he’s open to making a deal.
Here are the comments Trump made on immigration (emphasis added):
We’re going to build the wall. I’m going to build the wall. We’re going to have strong borders. But we’re also going to have people coming across the borders because we need workers.
We have to be able to have people come in to our country, because that’s good for all of us. It’s good for them, but it’s good for all of us. But we’re going to have very strong borders. We’re not going to have illegals coming in. But we’re going to have people coming in, but we’re also going to have them coming in based to a certain extent on merit.
I want Dreamers for our children also. We’re going to work something out. On a humanitarian basis it’s a very tough situation. We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud. But that’s a very tough situation.
Trump’s remarks on “Dreamers” have generated mixed reactions. The left-wing website Salon attacked them as “meaningless.” But Lindsey Graham had a different take on Twitter:
On Thursday, Trump announced the nomination of Andy Puzder as labor secretary. Puzder has been a supporter of a more liberal immigration policy. He has backed legalizing illegal immigrants, though he’s also opposed citizenship for them.
Trump’s about-face on the DREAMers means he’s finally facing reality on the immigration issue. We’re not going to round up 11 million people. The economic consequences of such a mass deportation would be disastrous. In addition, locating and arresting these people would likely result in massive civil liberties violations. It’s simply not feasible.
Trump is at his core a pragmatist. He prides himself on his ability to make deals. Immigration to him is just another issue to barter over. So now, Trump is focusing on deporting “violent” and “criminal” illegal immigrants. He estimates there are around 2 to 3 million of them, which would bring his proposed deportation number in line with Barack Obama’s.
The trouble for Trump is that his base is expecting tougher action on illegal immigration. This may end up being viewed as a betrayal, one that could hurt him when he seeks reelection in 2020.