The roller coaster
By Linda Chavez
We are not one week into the new year, and it’s already a roller coaster. The Dow Jones industrial average is up, breaking 25,000 on Thursday; President Donald Trump is down and dirty tweeting about his, ahem, great big nuclear button; and Steve Bannon has taken us around the curve, ending his BFF status with Trump by hinting that the president’s eldest son may be guilty of treason. How this particular episode of “As the Donald Turns” will end is anybody’s guess, but it looks as if we’re in for a thousand thrills. Meanwhile, the show must go on.
There is actual serious business to get done in the coming days and weeks, not least of which is a fix for the 700,000 or more young people who entered the country illegally as children and are about to lose work authorizations and their protection from deportation. Trump has been all over the place on the fate of these worthy young people, more than 90 percent of whom are gainfully employed, pay taxes and/or are enrolled in higher education or the military. He’s said he wants to show “heart” to the kids, many of whom came as babes in arms. But he also has to contend with his own past statements to deport these so-called dreamers on day one of his administration. Most Trump voters — 70 percent, by some polls — support a solution that provides legal status, but a small minority of his supporters want them gone, pronto. Among the latter are some organizations that couldn’t care less about this issue but want to use it to drive down legal immigration and hope for a bargain that would trade legal status for this small group if they could obtain long-sought decreases in overall legal immigration.
Chief among these groups are the Federation for American Immigration Reform, NumbersUSA and the Center for Immigration Studies, all of which favor drastic reductions in the population of the United States by whatever means they can get away with. These groups, as I have documented over the years, are headed by population control extremists, who support abortion and coerced sterilization and who are driven by alarmist worries about the environment, viewing people (no matter where they hail from) as pollution personified. Unfortunately, these groups dominate the debate on immigration issues within the GOP, making strange bedfellows with pro-life members of Congress. They will push for any legislative compromise on the dreamers to include limits on future legal immigration, which any right-thinking conservative knows would hurt America’s economy. But it remains to be seen whether President Trump will go along.
Trump’s immigration whisperer, White House aide Stephen Miller, will be pushing hard to make the dreamers the last large group of foreign-born Hispanics to earn legal status of any kind. Miller favors legislation that would ensure fewer immigrants from Latin America and Asia and more from Europe. But Miller is becoming more isolated in the West Wing. His mentor, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, for whom Miller worked on the Senate Judiciary Committee when Sessions chaired it, is on the outs. Even worse, his former colleague and fellow anti-immigration ally Bannon is not only gone from the White House but also now Trump’s least favorite person (if you don’t count Hillary Clinton). If Trump listens to his heart and those few people he truly trusts and follows the lead of House Speaker Paul Ryan, not Rep. Steve King, a decent compromise can be achieved.
I don’t think a border wall makes sense; it would be a money pit, not to mention an ugly symbol of American fear. But if throwing up some more concrete and additional sensors along our southern border would allow nearly a million Americans to continue to live, study and work here and to serve in our military, I’d gladly accept that as the price of compromise.
The president hasn’t been served well by his alt-right advisers and supporters, so why not try something else? There are still plenty of conservatives who agree with him on issues but want him to stop the drama and delete his Twitter account. He is heading into a second year with some accomplishments and plenty of embarrassments, but like it or not, he is president for the next three years, barring something catastrophic coming out of special counsel Bob Mueller’s investigation. I will hold my breath as we chug up the next hill, hoping the president drives the roller coaster that is his administration safely into the station. And what better way to celebrate than with 700,000 young dreamers who can start on their path to becoming true Americans?
Linda Chavez is the author of “An Unlikely Conservative: The Transformation of an Ex-Liberal.”