The president demands an immigration bill that can win Democratic support — and make all of his far-right friends happy.
On the day that Donald Trump ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), he called on Congress to pass a legislative replacement for the Executive-branch program — one that would protect its 700,000 (former) beneficiaries from deportation. The president went on to suggest that if Congress failed to protect those Dreamers, he would “revisit the issue,” and, ostensibly, protect them himself.
Four months later, a bipartisan group of senators announced that they’d reached consensus on a DACA replacement bill: Even though the president and GOP leadership had claimed to support legal status for Dreamers as an end in itself (and thus should have been prepared to support legislation that does nothing but that), Democrats nonetheless agreed to back a Dream Act that includes funding for Trump’s border wall, limits on the ability of legal U. S. residents to sponsor their adult children for immigration, and a reduction in diversity visas — provisions championed by Republicans and loathed by the progressive base.
On Thursday afternoon, Republican senators went to tell Trump the good news. The president then told them the bad news:
To be clear: This bill almost certainly does not “need to get wider approval” to pass. With Trump’s support, there should be more than enough Democratic and moderate Republican votes to get a Dream Act to his desk (even if some House progressives and conservatives buck their respective leaders).
Rather, the president appears to expect legislators to come up with a DACA deal that can both win enough Democratic support to pass the Senate and make all of his far-right friends happy. Trump has said repeatedly that he wants a bipartisan immigration deal. Earlier this week, he suggested that he would sign any immigration bill that made it to his desk. And yet, as Vox’s Dara Lind notes, every time congressional leaders have asked the administration what it needs to see in a DACA bill, the White House has produced a list of demands too extreme for many Republican senators:
Eventually, Trump is going to need to decide how he actually feels about protecting Dreamers: Is it the urgent necessity that he called on Congress to pass, or an odious concession that is only acceptable when paired with a restrictionist revolution in American immigration policy?
If it’s the former, he’s going to have to disappoint Tom Cotton; if the latter, he’ll need to tell 700,000 people who grew up in the United States, lived by its laws, and contributed to its prosperity that this isn’t their country anymore.

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