Democrats shouldn't be surprised that President Trump is tying one of their political goals to one of his.
The President is asking Congress for $18 billion to fund a wall along about half the U.S.-Mexico border. The administration and its allies in Congress want to tie wall funding to a solution for the roughly 800,000 young people brought into the U.S. illegally by their parents.
There’s an interesting aspect to this not tied to the “Dreamers” issue: the way Democrats respond to the call to prevent people from entering the U.S. illegally. They whine.
They’ve Known All Along
The Democrats have known all along that Trump wants America to construct a wall. No one is requiring them to like it or support it. To act so miffed that he is working hard to fulfill this key campaign promise is just too much.
Donald Trump talked of building a wall from the time he announced for the presidency until the election. It was one of the reasons he won. His cards were not only on the table but were placed there again and again.
Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois tweeted that the White House is “using Dreamers as a bargaining chip to pass a wish-list of hardline anti-immigrant bills. That’s being unreasonable.”
He knows full well that a main tool of a policymaker’s craft is combining a popular bill with an unpopular one. He’d do the exact same thing himself. Sure, it’s a bargaining chip. Politics is all about bargaining chips.
A Tried-and-True Political Trick
Mr. Trump is employing a tactic as old as lawmaking itself. He is forcing his opponents to address something they dislike in order to get something they want.
This happens all the time. For example, federal funding for the Veterans Affairs Department is tied to funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). There are sound reasons for this, among them a voucher program enabling veterans to live in public housing.
But politically, it makes great sense: No politician wants to vote against funding for America’s veterans’ programs. However, many would probably like to vote against HUD funding because that department is fraught with mismanagement and wasteful spending.
In 2016, for example, HUD leaders were found to “have ignored 63 financial management recommendations from Congress’ investigative arm since 2012 and only half-heartedly followed many more, resulting in the $43 billion agency’s books to be all but useless.”
I’m sure Ben Carson, the current HUD Secretary and a man of integrity and courage, is doing the best he can trying to bring reform to HUD. But in addition to the agency’s dubious constitutionality, it’s simply a mess, fiscally and as a bureaucracy.
So, veterans funding is hooked to HUD funding, in part, in order for the latter to get money. Is this ethical? Perhaps not. But does it represent a tried-and-true trick of the political trade? Absolutely.
Sovereignty or Chaos?
No one wants to see 800,000 young men and women taken into the U.S. illegally by their parents treated unfairly. There is little doubt a good resolution will be found. Yet to attack the President for tying legislation designed to resolve the “Dreamers” problem with one of his main objectives is sour grapes. That Mr. Trump is being politically astute might irk his opponents, but they protest a bit too much.
And let’s remember what he’s being politically astute in order to do. A country that cannot secure its borders and regulate the number of people who enter it has lost its identity as a sovereign entity. The Left views America less as a sovereign nation than as a gigantic sponge which can absorb all who wish to filter into it. It isn’t, and we can’t.
I’m a great fan of legal immigration. Three of my grandparents were immigrants who came to our shores legally. I understand why so many impoverished, economically hopeless Latinos wish to enter our nation, and know that the majority of them work hard and contribute to American life.
But if we cannot control the inflow of would-be Americans, our capacity for self-governance will become a farce. If the law against illegal immigration can be flouted so greatly, obedience to other laws will become more lax. That means contempt for justice and order, leading to growing social chaos. And chaos is the very thing that degrades the freedom and opportunity for which all immigrants long.