John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Trump lays groundwork for immigration two-step

Posted on April 9, 2019
Blaming Kirstjen Nielsen for the border crisis is like blaming Robert Mueller for the sun coming up.

But a scapegoat is what the president wanted and that’s what he got in his beleaguered soon-to-be former Homeland Security secretary.

Trump campaigned on the wall, border security and a broad crackdown on illegal immigration to power his unexpected rise to the Oval Office, so I guess you can excuse him for being a little obsessed with the issue.

And absent a deal with the Congress, it appears his only recourse is to enforce the law as written and suffer some bad press as a result.

Trump’s idea to close the border reminded me of the scene in “Blazing Saddles,” where Sheriff Bart takes himself hostage.

Taking our economy hostage is no way to solve our immigration problems.

The president, thankfully, backed off that threat but has moved on to threatening our auto industry as a way to compel Mexico to take action on their side of the border.

That, too, makes little sense to me. He wants to win Michigan again, doesn’t he?

It is the booming economy that will win this president a second term, not shooting wildly and hitting nothing on the immigration issue.

And so, what the president’s son-in-law is semi-secretly attempting to do on legal immigration will be far more productive for the Trump reelection campaign.

Attracting the best talent and the best workers from around the globe is the surest way to keep all Americans working productively for the next generation and keep the economy booming.

I think most Americans agree that legal immigration should be encouraged while illegal immigration should be discouraged.

Folks who come here legally pay taxes, pay into Social Security, get paid competitive wages, and live within our laws. They are productive members of our society and many of them eventually become citizens.

Illegal immigrants, on the other hand, often get abused by unscrupulous employers, which depresses wages. They usually get paid under the table and so don’t pay either taxes or Social Security and they are forced to live outside the margins of civil society.

That’s not to say that illegal immigrants are by definition bad people, because many come here to escape horrible conditions at home, and they want the best chance to live in freedom and prosperity. But illegal immigration is bad for those who come here illegally and bad for America’s workers.

The Trump two-step on immigration is thus defined.

Use the law to clamp down on illegal immigration. Kick people out of the country who don’t belong here and don’t have any respect for our laws.

Make sure to follow the letter of the law, because the judicial branch is not giving this president any leeway.

And use that pressure on illegal immigration to compel Congress, especially House Democrats, to move legislation to expand the definitions of legal immigration.

What Jared Kushner is trying to do to make our legal immigration system better requires legislation, but there is no evidence that the progressive community wants to give the president any kind of legislative victory on this issue (or any issue, for that matter).

Democrats like to talk about immigration, but they don’t actually like doing anything to fix our broken system. Remember when President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had huge majorities in Congress and then spent all their political capital on health care and climate change?

They could have rammed through something for the Dreamers, but they didn’t because those voters aren’t really that important to them.

If Trump wants to make legislative progress, he is going to have to make it really uncomfortable for Democrats. And the best way to do that it is to fully enforce the law, as written.

It won’t be pretty, but I can’t see any other way to make progress on this issue.

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