Sunday, February 18News That Matters

Dreamers to Democrats: We won't pay Trump's and Miller's ransom

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Republicans have dug in, turning the immigration debate that was supposed to be about protecting Dreamers into a base-solidifying midterm campaign rally. House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and acting President Stephen Miller—through his mouthpiece Donald Trump—have said it’s their white supremacist wishlist or nothing.

And not-insignificant number of Democrats appear to be scrambling to appease them, including Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) (who’s never been a player in immigration policy before) who is part of a “Common Sense Coalition” looking for a “bipartisan deal.” That deal appears to be coming to shape in a way that could hurt immigrant families, agreeing to limit family migration to the parents of Dreamers only, and closing out any opportunity for those parents to gain citizenship.

These are not concessions the Dreamers are asking for and that they reject. Greg Sargent:

“If they’re going to demand the Stephen Miller wish list, Democrats should say no,” Greisa Martinez Rosas, the director of advocacy and policy for United We Dream, told me this morning. “There’s a line for how much we will allow Trump and Miller to extract for our protection.”

In other words, because it would pit the dreamers against many current undocumented immigrants (including their own parents) and against future ones, many dreamers themselves do not want Democrats to pay this price, even if it upends their own lives. If that doesn’t drive home the fundamental imbalance of this situation, then nothing will. But regardless, it really may come to that.

Dreamers don’t want to be the ransom paid in exchange for harming other immigrants. Democrats should take no part in pitting them and their families against others. If it means walking away, they have to walk away. They aren’t going to take the blame. Sargent, again: “a recent Quinnipiac poll found that only 17 percent of Americans favor cuts to legal immigration, while 81 percent favor legalizing the dreamers.”

Democrats have to trust the people. They also have to trust—and listen to—the Dreamers. A clean Dream Act or nothing.