The Senate’s bipartisan immigration deal is falling apart because the president wants it to. By late Wednesday, a coalition of 17 senators—eight Republicans, eight Democrats, and one independent—reached consensus on a bill that would create a path to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children and allocate $25 billion for increased border militarization, including the wall. By early Thursday, the Trump administration had all but confirmed the deal is dead in the water.
The bipartisan proposal from the self-described Common Sense Caucus, led by Maine Republican Susan Collins, is one of several immigration bills under consideration in the Senate right now. None of them seem to have enough votes to pass, but the president, or the people telling the president what to do at any given moment, appears insistent that he will not support any bill that does not include each of his “four pillars.” Those pillars include, in addition to an agreement on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and border funds, an end to the visa lottery system and a dramatic reduction in family-based immigration. (Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley has introduced a bill that is basically a dupe of the White House proposal. It probably doesn’t have enough votes to pass the Senate.)
The bipartisan bill, which may also not have enough votes to pass the Senate, includes the first two “pillars” but not the second two, and so Trump tweeted this:
Then the Department of Homeland Security called the bill “mass amnesty,” despite it allocating additional funds for our already bloated enforcement system and hewing to the same path to legalization that the president set out himself:
Even as the White House threatens to torpedo the Collins bill, it’s worth noting how much it has already won on the issue of legal migration. Almost every version of a Senate bill being considered right now places some kind of restriction on family sponsorship—either through curtailing it across the board or restricting DACA recipients from eventually sponsoring their own parents.
This is how the Trump administration works: turning extremist positions into centrist points of concession. Democrats, captive to their sincere preference for actually accomplishing something, take the bait every time.