As promised, Donald Trump offered a non-starter deal to Democrats on his border wall this afternoon in exchange for temporary DACA extensions, and the deal disintegrated before Trump even finished his speech.
On Saturday, in remarks billed as a “major announcement” on the border and the shutdown, Trump proposed a deal to Democrats. He continues to insist that any bill to reopen the government include billions of dollars for a physical barrier on the US-Mexico border — a “wall” — but is now open to such a bill including other immigration provisions as well.
Most notably, he’s open to extending existing protections for the 700,000 or so immigrants currently protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who currently have legal status under Temporary Protected Status. The Trump administration has moved to sunset DACA, and to end protections for most of the immigrants covered under TPS. Both of those plans are currently held up in litigation.
Democrats aren’t particularly interested in what Trump’s proposing. “Democrats were not consulted on this and have rejected similar overtures previously,” a Democratic aide told Vox. “It’s clearly a non-serious product of negotiations amongst White House staff to try to clean up messes the president created in the first place. POTUS is holding more people hostage for his wall.”
After weeks of all-or-nothing intransigence, Trump’s announcement Saturday indicates that the White House realizes they’re losing the shutdown in the eyes of most Americans, and are willing to compromise to reopen the government. But Democrats also know the White House is losing the shutdown, and the compromise now on offer is something they are unlikely to take.
Trump’s pitching this as a compromise: He wants the wall, Democrats want to help DACA and TPS recipients. But the deal isn’t the result of conversations with Democrats. It’s reportedly the result of discussions that Vice President Mike Pence and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner have had with congressional Republicans (most notably Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)).
And it shows. What Trump’s offering — temporary extensions of existing protections for both groups of immigrants — isn’t something that Democrats have been wildly enthusiastic about in the past. Furthermore, with Trump’s efforts to strip existing protections held up in court, it’s essentially a short extension of the status quo.
DACA recipients are currently being allowed to extend their protections for two years, just as they could under the Obama administration, while the administration fights in court to end the program. (People who don’t already have protections are no longer allowed to apply.) Without knowing when the Supreme Court will rule — or how the Trump administration will proceed if the Supreme Court agrees they can end DACA, since their original plan (issuing no renewals for expirations after March 2018) is obviously moot — it’s hard to say for sure that a three-year one-time extension will protect DACA recipients for longer than waiting for the Supreme Court.
In other words, Trump gets 100% of what he wants in exchange for Democrats maybe getting what they would already have as status quo under Obama if Trump hadn't immediately scrapped DACA in the first place. Of course Nancy Pelosi told Trump to go to hell, and rightfully so.
Pelosi said in a statement before the speech that based on reports of the deal, she would not support it, calling it a "nonstarter" which was unlikely to pass the House.
"Unfortunately, initial reports make clear that his proposal is a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable and in total, do not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people's lives," Pelosi said. "For one thing, this proposal does not include the permanent solution for the Dreamers and TPS recipients that our country needs and supports."
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin also said in a statement that he would not support the rumored deal before the speech.
"First, President Trump and Senate Majority Leader McConnell must open the government today. Second, I cannot support the proposed offer as reported and do not believe it can pass the Senate. Third, I am ready to sit down at any time after the government is opened and work to resolve all outstanding issues," Durbin said.
Some conservatives also voiced their opposition to the deal. Right-wing commentator Ann Coulter tweeted: "Trump proposes amnesty. We voted for Trump and got Jeb!"
And of course the right wing nutjobs hate the deal. Nobody likes it, and it'll never pass the Senate, let alone the House. As we come up on 30 days, Trump is content to let tens of millions suffer.