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MATTHEW BOOSE: Compromise won’t appease the left on immigration
President Donald Trump’s executive order to stop separating immigrant families may have been the humane thing to do, but it was not the ideal decision politically.
By compromising with the left, Trump has given liberals a little more power to set the terms of the next immigration battle.
Granted, Trump was in a very difficult position. Should he have risked looking cruel by staying the course, or weak by surrendering?
Separating families looks bad, even if the underlying motivation of border enforcement is good.
But by reversing course, he now risks seeming weak. It looks like he was hiding all along that he had the authority to stop families from being separated, before shifting the blame to Congress and the Democrats, and then finally surrendering.
His executive order does not strengthen his position or the Republican party’s already embattled moral authority on the issue.
Trump may have hoped to avoid a wipe-out for the GOP in November, but the damage has already been done. Democrats won’t let Trump or the GOP forget that they waffled on the issue.
They will use every opportunity to portray Trump as a weak tyrant who only begrudgingly stopped abusing children.
Trump has also risked alienating his own supporters to appease the left, which will only begin to demand more extreme concessions. Some polls suggest that a majority, or at least a plurality, of Republicans approve of families being separated — likely not out of cruelty, but because they support the underlying “zero tolerance” policy that led to this crisis.
Republicans want a strong border. They want illegal border crossers to be prosecuted.
They will not be happy watching their president compromise with an uncompromising enemy on this issue.
Trump may have averted electoral disaster in the short-term, but he weakened his own party’s hold on the immigration issue in the long-term. What matters now is how Republicans and Trump handle the next stage of the border battle.
Trump has struck a precarious compromise that can fall apart under further pressure from the left.
Trump’s executive order aims to keep the “zero tolerance” policy and continue prosecuting illegal border crossers while detaining the children of illegal immigrants together with their families. This is a sensible compromise.
It would be ideal, if the left was interested in compromise.
Trump’s executive order has also been met with skepticism by leftists over whether he could successfully challenge the Flores settlement, a court ruling that ties up the administration’s ability to keep families together, or whether overruling that settlement would even go far enough to expiate Republicans of guilt.
Leftists will now start to play up the over-blown “concentration camp” rhetoric to malign Trump’s decision to do exactly what they had asked him to do, and bully him into making further concessions.
It is becoming apparent that the left doesn’t just want to stop families being separated. They want illegal immigrants to be released and granted immediate amnesty.
They want to erase the distinction between legal and illegal altogether with open borders.
The left’s outrage was never exclusively about families being separated. They may have been moved by the images of children crying, but they are nevertheless pursuing a political strategy that employs images of crying children.
While this situation is particularly emotional, the left will take any opportunity to push for open borders, with or without families being broken apart. This crisis just gave them an opportunity to score a point.
The left has applied the same unscrupulous strategy to every immigration battle. They approach every negotiation with an uncompromising set of demands, and then use emotional manipulation, accusations of racism, and harassment to pressure Republicans to surrender.
In this case, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) deliberately stonewalled a legislative fix, insisting that Trump solve the issue himself.
Schumer wanted to force Trump’s hand to make him surrender, and he succeeded. Schumer applied the same strategy in the winter, forcing a government shutdown over DACA.
The logical next step for the left is to move towards ending “zero tolerance” altogether. They will complain that prosecuting illegal immigrants is a needless use of force, or they will argue that illegal immigrants should receive trifling penalties, keeping up an appearance of wanting to punish illegal immigrants while actually encouraging them to break the law.
Trump’s executive order will not satisfy the left. They will continue to manipulate Republicans into giving up further concessions.
We must hold steady.
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