It’s Time to Call Trump’s Bluff on the Dreamers

With passage of a two-year spending agreement, the threat of a possible government shutdown is over. But we still don’t have legislation to protect the Dreamers from deportation. As the situation stands right now, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised that the Senate will consider DACA legislation (who knows what that will look like?) and Speaker Paul Ryan has said that he won’t support a bill that the president would veto.

The line we’ve been hearing from the president for months now is that he supports the Dreamers. But his actions demonstrate otherwise. It was during a meeting in which Trump rejected a bipartisan compromise on DACA that he made his real intentions clear: he wants to stop immigration from what he called “shithole” countries.

Stephen Miller gave away the game last fall during a meeting with people from Breitbart.

Miller’s goal on this occasion was to sell the group on a compromise: a possible deal offering protections to the young undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers” in exchange for tougher immigration provisions, such as an end to family-sponsored migration…

“Be a possible ‘yes,’ be open to doing something that makes you very uncomfortable on DACA in exchange for substantive structural reforms that may have been out of reach,” a senior White House official said, summarizing Miller’s pitch on the condition of anonymity to share details of a private moment. “That’s the whole game.”

Trump knows that the American public overwhelmingly supports the Dreamers. He is using that as leverage to pass xenophobic changes to our immigration system. Specifically, he wants:

  • Funding for a border wall
  • Legislative changes that would make it easier to deport child migrants and asylum-seekers
  • An end to family-sponsored migration
  • An end to the Diversity Visa program

I would suggest that it’s time to call Trump’s bluff on this one. He is the one who put the Dreamers at risk by ending DACA. The claim at the time was that an executive order wasn’t legal and so Congress needed to pass legislation. Does he support doing so or not? Why muddy the waters with unrelated items?

When it comes to Trump’s wish list, the constituency most important to this discussion has made their views on it abundantly clear. Here’s what the Dreamers themselves have said:

Let’s call this proposal for what it is: a white supremacist ransom note. Trump and Stephen Miller killed DACA and created the crisis that immigrant youth are facing. They have taken immigrant youth hostage, pitting us against our own parents, Black immigrants and our communities in exchange for our dignity.

To Miller and Trump’s white supremacist proposal, immigrant youth say: No.

So let us be clear: any politician who backs up this ransom note is enabling Trump and Miller’s white supremacist agenda.

Members of Congress of conscience must make the moral choice to reject this white supremacist proposal and pass legislation that protects us without harming others.

Democrats should stand with the Dreamers and say “no” to Trump’s attempt to take them hostage. To the extent that support for Dreamers is leverage, it is time to use it to call the president’s bluff. Is he really willing to make them vulnerable and actually start deporting them when 90 percent of the public is against that? Democrats should stop playing the game by Miller’s rules and find out.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .