- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 1, 2018

President Donald Trump told a listening State of the Union country that part of his border and immigration plan included a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million illegals currently in America.

This is actually a politically ingenious move.

Trump-voting conservatives may be angry. But fact is, the announcement put the border issue squarely in the Democrats’ court. The left will either have to concede on other key border control matters — or admit hypocrisy.

Let’s unravel Trump’s message: “The first pillar of our framework generously offers a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents at a young age — that covers almost three times more people than the previous administration.”

Those meeting federal education and employment standards, those without criminal pasts and those who “show good moral character” will gain a pathway to American citizenship, Trump said.

Not the best news for Trump’s base, true. But politically, it’s savvy and smart, and pragmatic. For one, Democrats can’t play the racist card on Dreamers any longer.

They have to bow heads and admit: Hey, this president didn’t just give us what we wanted. He gave more than we wanted.

Refusing this deal means Republicans would have the upper hand on the emotional strings that Dems have been pulling for so long — the ones that say these illegal so-called Dreamers are poor innocents who want nothing more than to melt in America’s pot with all the other good citizens of the country, and that therefore they’re worthy of amnesty. If Democrats don’t take this deal, they’ll be shown as the heartless ones — truly, the self-interested hypocrites who were only crying about Dreamers for political gain.

And it’s the rest of the deal, the other three pillars, that should have conservatives clapping.

“The second pillar fully secures the border,” Trump said. “That means building a wall on the southern border … and it finally ends the dangerous practice of ‘catch and release.’ The third pillar ends the visa lottery, a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit or the safety of our people.”

The fourth?

The fourth puts an end to chain migration.

“Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distance relatives,” Trump said. “Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children.”

Bam. On immigration, Republicans, 3; Democrats, 1. But just as importantly, the public relations battle has now significantly shifted.

Will Dems take the deal and walk away with heads high, knowing they fulfilled their promises for dreaming illegals? Or will they take a sharp turn down Political Lane, blinded by partisanship, forgetful of their so-called and self-professed love and regard for these illegals?

The ball’s in their court. The squeeze is to their necks.

Here’s the hint of their next move, courtesy of Rep. Joe Kennedy, who delivered the Democratic response to the State of the Union: “To all the Dreamers watching tonight, let me be clear.” And then he spoke in Spanish, these words, translated: “You are a part of our story. We will fight for you. We will not walk away.”

Then? Well then.

Then the left, as a group, walked away.

“Trump Promotes Immigration Reforms, Democrats Reject His Policy as ‘Heartless,’” ran a Voice of America headline, above a story filled with quotes from Democrats rejecting Trump’s immigration deal.

No need to quote all the Dems dissing on Trump’s deal. You get the idea.

Once again, it appears the Democrats are going to try to have it both ways. They’re going to talk the talk — a la Kennedy’s rhetoric — while failing to walk the walk. They’re going to pretend like they care about illegals, while running from a deal that would give illegals a cushy future.

But voters know: Trump, on immigration, just grabbed the left by the neck and squeezed tight. Democrats are now being exposed as little more than political hacks and power-hungry partisans, users of Dreamers for personal gain. It’s not a border solution. But it is a solid campaign tool that can be platformed into larger Republican majorities — into 60-vote majorities that can potentially bring the “no amnesty” promises Trump made on the campaign trail into fruition.

Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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