Nearly Everyone Loses If Immigration Deal Fails

Congress should be able to pass a plan, but it depends on Trump and, yes, liberals.

The immigration free-for-all that starts in Congress this week will test the character of House Speaker Paul Ryan, the courage of Republican moderates, the cunning of President Donald Trump and the sensibilities of the Democratic left.

The odds are that any deal will fall part, and all of the above will be losers. Washington will prove to be as dysfunctional as the public perceives.

If, however, those politicians rise above that standard, it could be a win for all but the immigration-haters. The Dreamers, those immigrants brought here as children and who are contributing members of society, wouldn’t face the threat of deportation, and there would be more resources for border security.

Democrats, with some Republican support, last month tried to get a deal for the Dreamers by holding up the bill to keep the government running. They were unsuccessful, and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, despite protests from immigration activists, wisely retreated.

A government funding measure was passed a few days ago with a promise that the Senate would take up immigration this week. The procedure is that if anything gets 60 votes, it passes. As for the House, Speaker Ryan has said only that it would take up a White House-supported measure.

Trump has been all over the lot. He has offered a proposal that, in addition to supporting Dreamers and a border wall, would beef up deportation police and cut legal immigration, among other measures that never could get through the Senate. What he wants is anything he can call a victory.

There are more than 60 votes in the Senate to protect Dreamers, ideally on a permanent basis, and to provide more money for border security (while being purposefully vague on a wall), in addition to some other, small changes. This depends on two conditions. First, the bipartisan self-styled common-sense lawmakers, Republicans like Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski and Democrats such as Joe Manchin and Chris Coons, have to stick together and ignore Trump and his tweets. Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake can offer expertise in complicated areas, and John McCain, while stricken with cancer in Arizona, can offer inspiration.

By Albert R. Hunt for BLLOMBERG VIEW
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