- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 17, 2018

What a fine mess this country is in right now regarding border control.

Judges won’t recognize President Donald Trump’s authority to toss aside the unconstitutionally created amnesty deal called DACA, benefiting tens of thousands of illegals.

Republicans in Congress can’t get a piece of legislation moved forward to crack down on illegal incursions across our borders.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions just announced he’s putting an end to an activist Justice Department and executive branch — an announcement that normally would be a great thing, but now comes amid an immigration turmoil that frankly, may only be able to be solved via activism at Justice and at the executive.

And Democrats are giggling madly both behind closed doors and to a sympathetic, complicit press about their ability to stymy this White House on its president’s core basic campaign promise — to reinstate law and order at the border.

Obama’s legacy of steamrolling past the Constitution, bypassing Congress and thwarting the will of the American voter — the means by which his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program came into being in the first place — stands tall and strong under this Trump administration.

Again, my what a fine mess this country is facing.

Trump has given Democrats a cushy deal — a pathway to an immigration bill that would’ve given more than they wanted on DACA by granting amnesty to 1.8 million illegals, not just the 600,000 or 700,00 or so tied directly to the program. But leftists shot it down in the Senate, protesting the tit-for-tat end to chain migration contained in the measure.

But it’s not just Democrats.

“I find myself flabbergasted at where my own party is in this debate because every [immigration] proposal that has Republican support that has been submitted begins from a place markedly to the left of President Obama,” Ted Cruz said, of the amnesty provision Republicans backed, Conservative Review reported. “Today, too many Republicans are eager to embrace the Democrats’ demands that … 10 million people here illegally should be granted a path to citizenship. That’s plain and simple wrong.”

Yes, it is.

Cruz is right, as well, in his criticism of the current state of Republican-led border talks on Capitol Hill, when he said: “It’s almost as if elections don’t penetrate. We need to be listening to the voters. I do not know a single Republican, not one in this body, not one in the House … who was elected on the promise, ‘I will go the left of Barack Obama.’”

But the thing is: At what point should principle cede to pragmatism?

Trump, during his State of the Union, outlined a plan that would grant 1.8 million illegals a pathway to citizenship over a period of 10 or so years — but that would also allot $25 billion for the building of a border wall, dramatically reshape and restrict chain migration programs and put an end to the diversity visa lottery. Sen. Charles Grassley brought forth a plan to do just that; Trump called for the Senate to support the bill.

But it just fell with fewer than 50 votes — meaning, not even Republicans backed it. By the numbers, only 39 senators voted yay, including three from the left; 14 Republicans, meanwhile, joined almost all the Dems to vote nay.

Three other less law-and-order bills brought forward at the same time fell, as well. But it was only Grassley’s that had Trump’s backing; it was only Grassley’s that stood the best chance of making it to Trump’s desk.

For Republicans like Cruz, amnesty is a deal-breaker.

And while once upon a time, it was just that principled anti-amnesty stand was a real crowd-pleaser for conservatives, these times they have changed. It’s now this very principled stand that’s becoming a stumbling block to good governance and to smart politicking.

Frankly speaking, America is a country that’s filled with millions upon millions of illegals who just aren’t going to be deported en masse — that’s just not going to happen, high time to drop that from the national discussion. So why not just recognize that reality, cede the point, and turn the tables by using DACA as a bartering chip for bigger border wins?

That’s what the Trump-Grassley plan provided.

It was a three-for-one trade. It was a smart political move. It was a strategic maneuver that threw the border debate back in Democrats’ faces.

But now a few Republicans want to dismiss that package sleight-of-hand-like because of some higher principle against any amnesty? Great, thanks, appreciate the sentiment. But it’s time to be a bit more pragmatic on border control.

The fact is, Obama’s ghost has been haunting this administration’s immigration plans and this Congress’s border discussions. It’s better to boot the specter, even if it means taking a lump or two in the process, and go for the bigger wins down the line.

Sometimes one has to cede a battle or two to win the larger war.

Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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