The Art of the Deal was just put on full display for everyone to see. With this latest immigration “deal” that the White House released—and the Democrats rejected wholeheartedly—President Trump has reminded us all of his mastery of the art of deal-making, and political mind games on top of that.
It all started with the most recently proposed deal in the ongoing DACA debate. This plan, put forward by the White House—allegedly with the support of both Trump and Senior Advisor Stephen Miller—offered amnesty to 1.8 million illegal aliens in the country (over one million more than the actual number of DACA-eligible recipients). In exchange, the plan included $25 billion for funding of the border wall, an end to the visa lottery program, and elimination of chain migration (the president’s three baseline conditions).
This plan immediately drew ire from the radical portions of Trump’s base, with Ann Coulter types insisting that amnesty for such a large number of illegals would give the Democrats an even greater electoral advantage in the immediate future. It was also taken as “proof” that Trump had finally gone soft on immigration, and would cave just as Republicans in the past have always done. For a while, it appeared—to this crowd at least—that Coulter’s doomsday predictions were finally coming true.
There was one group, however, even angrier about the proposed deal than Trump’s base—Democratic electorate. The organization “United We Dream,” one of the largest illegal alien advocacy groups in the country, denounced the plan as “a white supremacist ransom note.” Shortly after several congressional Democrats, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Ted Lieu, used similar language to criticize the deal, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer rejected the plan.
Then, in a most fitting conclusion to this saga, President Trump revealed in a single Tweet that this offer was a ploy all along,”to show that Democrats do not want to solve DACA, only use it.” He played the Democratic Party like a cheap fiddle. If you were to go back in time to even just a few weeks ago, and say that President Trump would put forward a plan including amnesty for almost two million illegals, people would laugh at you. If you were to then add that the Democrats would reject this plan, people would call you crazy. If you were to then say that the entire ordeal was just an elaborate trick to make the Democrats look worse, they’d probably put a straitjacket on you themselves.
And yet, here we are. What just happened, and what does it mean?
First of all, it reveals Trump’s masterful manipulation. He has combined the legendary negotiating skills that made him a multi-billionaire, with the most cunning political trickery possible, for the sole purpose of utterly humiliating his opposition. After the Schumer Shutdown, the Democrats were already in disarray and embarrassed enough. Not only did they lose a government shutdown fight for the first time in recent memory, not only did they actually find the mainstream media blaming them for the shutdown over the Republicans, and not only did they find their support among moderate voters fading faster than expected; but they caved so quickly that they almost instantly lost the support of the last group that could possibly stick with them after the whole debacle—the radical, far-left base of millennials and illegal alien activists like United We Dream, also known as the alt-left.
When the Democrats agreed to end the shutdown after less than three days, far-left protesters began chanting outside Schumer’s home in Brooklyn, and his leadership of the party was quickly called into question. Somehow, Schumer and the Democrats managed to hit every wrong note imaginable, successfully alienating both moderates and radicals, and walking away from the ordeal with nothing.
Naturally, the battle-scarred Democrats assumed that the only sensible option going forward was to remain as hardline as possible, in a weak effort to regain lost support among the alt-left. Thus, we come to this latest deal. When Trump offered the Democrats something even greater than DACA—amnesty for an additional million on top of the roughly 700,000 DACA recipients—the opposition party was quick to highlight what they didn’t like instead. Citing the ending of the visa lottery and chain migration, which would drastically cut legal immigration, the Democrats picked up the rabid drumbeat of their far-left base, and rejected the entire plan. Even if they could potentially earn 1.8 million new voters, millions more potential new voters would never get to come to the United States—and that was unacceptable for them.
The signs were there all along. Obviously, such an obscene amount of amnesty directly contradicts what Trump promised to do back when he was just a candidate. And although past Republicans have shown a penchant for going against campaign promises when it comes to immigration, Trump is a president who has followed through on even his most radical promises, from the Paris Accord to the Jerusalem declaration.
For those who were somewhat skeptical of Trump himself, and instead had more faith in his advisors, Stephen Miller’s role in this plan should have been another immediate red flag. Miller is considered to be perhaps the last nationalist populist advisor in the White House, after others such as Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon, and Sebastian Gorka have left. As such, he is notoriously hawkish on immigration, so much so that he earned the ire of Senator Lindsey Graham, who is notoriously moderate on immigration. So when that same Stephen Miller was widely reported to be the one who wrote this deal, it should have been obvious that something was amiss about this particular offer.
Quite simply, it is clear now that President Trump and Stephen Miller are running the show when it comes to immigration negotiations. And that momentum has not slowed down at all. Voices like Graham’s have all but been eliminated from the process; not only was his “bipartisan” deal with Dick Durbin rejected by the White House, but Graham has now been officially removed from any future immigration talks as a result of his public insults towards Miller and Chief of Staff John Kelly.
With this dramatic and unexpected phase out of the way, it’s safe to assume that the White House’s next move on immigration will not be a ploy. Expect for the next Trump-endorsed plan to be much more hardline as he finally reveals what it is that he truly wants out of an immigration deal. There’s now a little over one month before DACA expires on March 5th. Buckle up, it’s going to be a wild ride.