Dreaming of a Wall

Dr. Malcolm Cross

It’s just been announced that the government has reopened, at least temporarily.  The government may shut down again in 17 days should Democrats and Republicans in Congress be unable to reach a more permanent agreement on illegal immigration.  Should that happen, they may want to consider the following compromise:  Democrats agree to finance Donald Trump’s wall across our southern border, while Republicans agree to extend the DACA program.

This idea is by no means original with me.  The Washington Post broached this idea in an editorial on January 10, which can be found at https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/take-a-deal-for-the-dreamers-build-the-wall/2018/01/10/d02a5c06-f640-11e7-beb6-c8d48830c54d_story.html?utm_term=.e7b1c045e37d.   And Senator Chuck Schumer, leader of the Senate Democrats he made exactly this proposal at a meeting with President Trump at the White House last Friday:  He says he offered at least eighteen billion dollars to build the wall in exchange for saving the DACA program, and thought President Trump agreed to the proposal, until he changed his mind.

If Senator Schumer’s report of his meeting is correct, President Trump should change his mind again, take the offer, and declare victory.  He’ll have much to crow about.

After all, President Trump made the proposed wall his signature campaign issue.  Democrats have long resisted it, but should the president accept Schumer’s offer and Schumer delivers on his promise, the president can claim he’s done exactly what he promised to do.

Moreover, securing the wall while following through on his own stated desires to help the DACA “Dreamers” will allow him to claim a major bipartisan victory—really the first for his administration.  His two previous major accomplishments—putting Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court and securing passage of the recent tax bill—were achieved with almost no Democratic support.  A major bipartisan victory will enhance his prestige and his popularity, given the sympathy most Americans have for the “Dreamers.”

Of course, there are elements in both the Republican and Democratic parties which can be counted on to oppose this deal.  Many Republicans want to end “chain migration,” by which the “Dreamers” and other immigrants can bring their relatives to the United States, as well as the lottery program which awards some immigrants the right to come here on the basis of chance, not merit.

And more progressive Democrats might likewise oppose the prospective Schumer-Trump bargain precisely because it doesn’t guarantee the preservation of either chain migration or the lottery.  Moreover, they may balk at paying for the wall.  Even though its projected 20 billion dollar cost is only about one half of one percent of projected federal expenditures, its symbolic value is great.

Nonetheless, Senator Schumer has made his offer and President Trump should take it.  It offers the President victory on his most cherished project while saving the current “Dreamers” as well—a real victory for Senator Schumer.  By making the deal, and cooperating in promoting its acceptance by Congress, they can restore responsible government.  With the reality of a functioning government, and in the absence of continuous finger-pointing over who shut it down, responsible Democrats and Republicans will have more time to negotiate the other issues that divide them.

Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present).  He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014.  He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.

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