The partial government shutdown lingers from day to day with seemingly no solution in sight. The president wants a border wall. Democrats oppose it.
This wall of ideology seems intractable, but it’s not.
Here’s the solution: Republican senators should propose a bill that includes at least part of the money for the wall — say half of the $5.7 billion President Trump wants — as well as a strong codification of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that exists today only because President Obama issued an executive order.
Both sides agree to the deal, appropriate money to reopen the government and agree to work on border security together.
Democrats in the House would have a difficult time ignoring such a compromise. The president would have trouble vetoing it.
The two issues are related. Each deals with the orderly process of handling the flow of immigrants across the southern border.
DACA, which both parties and the public supports, allows the children of undocumented immigrants — those brought here as children through no fault or decision of their own — to remain under a renewable two-year deferment of legal action and to obtain work permits. It is a humanitarian provision that keeps young people from being deported to nations that, despite their ancestry, are completely foreign to them.
The border wall is a tool to help control the flow of undocumented immigrants across the border, who attempt to come without submitting to due process or applying for visas. It won’t stop people from overstaying their visas, from cyberattacking America or prevent them from entering the country in other ways. But it will shore up certain areas of the border, which already has 654 miles of some form of a fence or wall, covering approximately one-third of the border.
DACA has enjoyed wide bipartisan support, although Congress failed to codify it last year because of disputes over border security, among other things. Even the president has expressed support for such a law at times, while at other times trying to shrink the program.
DACA is on shaky legal ground. Obama’s executive order has been called into question, although courts have required it to continue until the dispute over its legality has been settled.
Ruling last year on a challenge by a number of states, Texas-based Judge Andrew Hanen declined to end the program immediately but said he probably would find it illegal eventually. He also urged Congress to resolve the issue in the meantime by passing a law.
Now is as good a time as any. Democrats, who tend to support DACA, would be hard-pressed not to compromise on the wall to get the program written into law. Even Republicans who may have misgivings about DACA would be hard-pressed to reject a chance to get some wall funding.
Absent such a deal, the shutdown likely will last until one side or the other calculates that the political risk of continuing has grown too large. Meanwhile, the mounting effects will continue to hurt the lives of thousands of government workers and their families, jeopardize products that rely on government inspections, compromise the budgets of states that have chosen to keep parks open or fund needed services, and otherwise send negative ripples through the economy in myriad ways.
Such a deal would require leadership on the part of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who until now has declined to allow consideration of anything he believes the president would veto.77 comments on this story
Passing such a bill would put pressure on President Trump, as well as give him a positive way out of the current impasse. But it also makes sense for the president, because every passing day of the shutdown threatens the country's economy, and he needs a strong economy to help convince voters he deserves to be re-elected.
It’s unfortunate that the president, Republicans and Democrats need a self-serving reason to do what’s right for the American people. But the approach above offers a way forward with a victory for all parties.