When Donald Trump struck a deal with the Democrats to protect ‘Dreamers’, those affected by the DACA Act, and kick questions of the debt ceiling into December, it was something of a political coup de grace for everyone involved. Now, the optimism has faded away as Trump issues a list of demands as the price of saving Dreamers from possible detainment and deportation, including funding for the infamous border wall.
The demands also include penalties to ‘sanctuary cities’ which have resisted Trump’s attempted crackdown on illegal immigrants as well as an E-verify programme so that companies can prevent illegal immigrants from gaining jobs. Other demands include employing more ICE officers, federal prosecutors, and immigration judges as part of an immigration package aimed at pleasing conservative voices over immigration.
Democrats have slammed this turn of events, arguing that the original deal did not include funding for the border wall and that any discussion of the wall is a non-starter. As expected, the Congressional Democrat Leadership, Chuck Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi, are outraged at the new betrayal from Donald Trump. After telling Congress that they had six months to develop a new policy based on DACA’s survival, Trump is now holding the fate of Dreamers as a ransom demand for the Democrats to co-operate. The GOP has already faced several ideas to provide a legislative fix to DACA, but there is no sign of an end in sight just yet.
The ground beneath the Democrats’ feet has shifted again and they will be even more wary of trusting Trump’s words again. The fate of the Dreamers is a pressing issue for the Democrats after the DACA Act was frozen by Jeff Sessions last month who has welcomed the demands by Trump. However, Republicans are already embroiled in other legislative battles before the 2018 mid-term elections including their big push to reform the US tax code. The new added pressure from Donald Trump is certainly not welcome.
However, Trump is in for even more trouble. With tax reform facing struggles further up the road, his new betrayal of the Democrats means that appealing to moderate voices in both parties are going to be more difficult. His recent attacks on former ally Bob Corker and the growing divides in the Republican Party have served to isolate Trump while his betrayal of the Democrats will make future bi-partisan support almost impossible.
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Dreamers will be waiting anxiously for the sword to fall, powerless to act in their new role as mere bargaining chips. Their fate will be tied to the fate of one of Donald Trump’s most controversial campaign pledges: to build a wall across the U.S-Mexico border.
The honeymoon with Chuck and Nancy was always likely to be a short and turbulent one, but few expected it to end this explosively. Once again, Trump has gone back on his word in a move that may hamper his own interests down the road.
Trump might have to run as an independent next year because no party will want to touch him after this.