President Trump

President Trump

WASHINGTON – Though the status of the DACA “Dreamers” is mired in conflicting claims – furious tweets and contradictory news reports – one thing appears certain: If President Trump does not live up to his promise of strong border security and “America First” immigration policy, he and his party risk losing the voters who put them over the top in 2016.

Harry Enten and Perry Bacon Jr. of the statistical analysis site FiveThirtyEight point out that in 2016, immigration “may have been the issue most responsible for Trump’s winning the Republican nomination,” with primary exit polls showing he did best among voters who said immigration was their top issue.

On Thursday, Trump faced sharp criticism from some of his staunchest supporters in response to reports that an agreement on DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, had been made with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., at the White House Wednesday. Trump has insisted “no deal was made,” but he has indicated he’s willing to compromise with Democrats on allowing some 800,000 young people who arrived in the United States illegally with their parents to remain in the country.

In the general election, a study of exit polling, the 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, found that Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 31 percentage points among voters who said immigration was the most important issue facing the country.

The study found 73 percent of Trump voters said immigration was of “very high importance” to them, compared with 24 percent of Clinton voters.

Enton and Bacon concluded that even though DACA is popular, Republicans “would be unlikely to face a backlash among their voters – even their more centrist ones – should they refuse to pass a replacement.”

An analysis of polling data also shows Republicans who take stronger stances against illegal immigration fare better in elections, and President Trump was no exception.

“In recent elections, a hardline stance on immigration has proved to be a winner in Republican primaries. It has been highly correlated with how well GOP senators have done against primary challenges,” Bacon and Enton argue. “Senators with more hardline positions have done better against primary challengers; those with more moderate views have done worse.”

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‘We’re working on a plan’

Meanwhile, Trump reacted to the criticism from his base Thursday by insisting “massive border security” will be part of any agreement. Last week, Trump rescinded an executive order by President Obama that shielded from deportation the children of illegal immigrants, urging Congress to come up with a legislative fix within six months.

“We’re working on a plan – subject to getting massive border controls. We’re working on a plan for DACA. People want to see that happen,” Trump told reporters Thursday as he prepared to board Marine One for his trip to Florida to survey Hurricane Irma damage. “You have 800,000 young people brought here – no fault of their own. So we’re working on a plan. But we’ll get massive border security as part of that. … Something will happen.”

While Democratic leaders have repeatedly warned that they will oppose any funding for Trump’s border wall, Trump assured his base he will build a wall on the southern border of the U.S. and “Mexico will pay for it.”

But he conceded the wall will not be involved in DACA negotiations.

“The wall will come later,” Trump said. “The wall is going to be built. It will be funded a little bit later.”

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In his meeting with Schumer and Pelosi Wednesday, Trump urged Congress to devise a measure on remedying DACA sooner than the March 5 deadline.

Schumer and Pelosi agree on granting “Dreamers” legal rights, Trump explained, but so do House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“Mitch is on board, Paul Ryan’s on board,” Trump said. “We all feel, look, 92 percent of the people agree on DACA, but what we want is very, very powerful border security.”

Prior to talking with reporters, Trump assured his supporters that a DACA deal will include border-security stipulations.

“No deal was made last night on DACA. Massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent. Would be subject vote,” Trump tweeted in a series of posts Thursday. “The WALL, which is already under construction in the form of new renovation of old and existing fences and walls, will continue to be built.”

‘No fault of their own’

Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the administration’s decision to eliminate DACA in six months, giving Congress time to craft a legislative solution.

Yet, the president made clear in a series of tweets Thursday that he is opposed to deporting illegal immigrants who emigrated to the country as minors.

“Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really! …” he tweeted. “… They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own – brought in by parents at young age. Plus BIG border security.”

Schumer and Pelosi released a statement Thursday morning concurring that there was no final deal reached on DACA after meeting at the White House with Trump Wednesday.

“We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides.” the statement said.

“What remains to be negotiated are the details of border security, with a mutual goal of finalizing all details as soon as possible,” Schumer and Pelosi wrote. “While both sides agreed that the wall would not be any part of this agreement, the president made clear he intends to pursue it at a later time, and we made clear we would continue to oppose it.”

Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, who also attended the White House meeting, claims the president is eager to come to a legislative agreement that would legalize 800,000 illegal aliens.

“He says, ‘Oh, DACA, we want to move on this quick, we don’t want to wait six months,” Cuellar told The Hill after the meeting. “He said, ‘it’s already been six days and nothing’s happened.”

Cuellar said Trump didn’t specify how soon he wants to see the DACA legislation from Congress, but he warned that if Congress waits a half year to act, the controversy surrounding Dreamers would only make it more difficult for Congress to unify and construct a bill.

Trump wants to move “when people are not expecting it,” Cullar said. “He said, ‘We don’t have to tie a wall to this. We can put a wall [in another bill].’”

Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Rep. Peter King, R.-N.Y., praised the president Thursday.

However, many conservatives and Republicans are shell-shocked by indications that a president who centered his presidential campaign on remedying illegal immigration was acquiescing to Democratic demands to extend amnesty to illegals.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who has been a staunch supporter of the president and his immigration policies, warned Thursday that any amnesty initiative the president endorses is a big mistake and would make him no better than his predecessors.

“Reagan led with Amnesty, 1986. Bush43 led with Amnesty ’06, Obama led with Amnesty ’13. All failed so…Trump leads with DACA 2017,” King tweeted.

Conservative Fox News host Sean Hannity argued that Republican lawmakers, intent on obstructing Trump from legislative achievement, are to blame for Trump resorting to work with Democrats.

Conservative columnist Ann Coulter, who ardently backed Trump during the election because of his promise to put an end to illegal immigration, expressed her dismay with a play on the effort of many Democratic lawmakers to impeach Trump.

“At this point, who DOESN’T want Trump impeached?” Coulter tweeted.

 

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