Trump’s latest immigration remarks just backed him into a corner

Speaking for Donald Trump, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the new bipartisan Flake-Graham-Durbin immigration proposal would be “dead on arrival” should it reach the Oval Office. 

In its place, the Presidon’t is putting blame for the next shutdown squarely on his own Resolute desk.

Deomcrats just ended a three-day shutdown by extending the deadline for a decision on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), an Obama-era law protecting aspiring young Americans who came to this country without documentation, through no fault of their own, from deportation to countries they don’t remember.

Trump has previously said he wanted an immigration bill to be one “of love” and has said he has “great love” for DACA recipients, otherwise known as Dreamers.

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However, after his racist “shithole” comments derailed previously productive immigration talks and hastened the government shutdown, Trump followed the lead of his chief of staff John Kelly and his white nationalist advisor Stephen Miller by taking an even harder line against immigrants of color.

Huckabee Sanders said the Trump administration doesn’t like that the new bill — proposed by two Republicans, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona, and one Democrat, Dick Durbin of Illinois — took a fair stance on border security, family reunification, and the visa lottery. 

The White House would prefer to waste money on a border wall, split up families, and pick immigrants based on “merit” (see, “whiteness”).

Because Republicans betrayed their promise to Democrats that they would allow a DACA vote as part of an immigration deal, the Democrats said they would not renew government spending, which meant the government would shut down and federal checks would not go out to military families and government employees.

This shutdown was the first in American history to occur when one party, namely the Republicans, controlled all three branches of government. 

Immediately after the government voted to shut down, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) proposed a bill to pay military families during the spending freeze, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) objected.

Democrats announced yesterday that they would allow the government to renew business as usual, so that military and federal employee families could receive their checks, on the condition that the government would extend for six more years its funding of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) — instated in the ’90s by then-First Lady Hillary Clinton to ensure that millions of poor children received healthcare.

In agreeing to resume funding the government, Dems stipulated that they would push the DACA vote to three weeks from now, accepting a promise from McConnell to hold a vote then.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced today that he is taking the border wall off the negotiating table, due to Republicans’ backing out on their prior promise to protect Dreamers.

This afternoon, with their xenophobic statements about the Graham-Durbin-Flake bill, the White House effectively said they will be picking up their toys and going home, calling the bipartisan proposal “unacceptable to the president.”

On February 8, when the extended spending vote deadline arrives, and Democrats come to collect on the Republican promise to vote on DACA, the GOP will absorb the lion’s share of the blame for shutting down the government over the overwhelmingly popular DACA program due to their blatant xenophobia.

Hopefully, by then, public pressure will make Republicans afraid not to keep the government open and protect the Dreamers.

By calling the Flake -Graham-Durbin bill “DOA,” Trump has cornered his own party into having to comply or risk appearing even more incapable of governing than they already do.

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Lucia Brawley

Lucia Brawley is a Harvard- and Yale-educated writer, producer, actor, and political organizer. She runs the progressive political Facebook group Consenting to Lead. To learn more, please go to Follow her on Twitter: @luciabrawley