Is Paul Ryan Planning to Drop a Standalone "Dreamer's Amnesty" into a Budget Bill?

By Dan Cadman on October 26, 2017

On October 24, the Huffington Post reported that "Paul Ryan Tells Conservatives DACA Will Be Part Of Spending Deal", DACA being "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals", the Obama White House's extra-statutory and constitutionally flawed administrative program to shield illegal aliens who came here as youth from the reach of federal deportation laws.

President Trump ordered a phase-out of the program over a two-year period and suggested that lawmakers should pick up the banner and do something on behalf of these individuals. What exactly to do has become a source of great contention, with open borders advocates and most Democrats suggesting that a standalone amnesty bill should be greased through Congress and put onto the president's desk for signature.

On the other hand, those in favor of immigration control and enforcement, as well as many (but by no means all) Republicans, believe that such a deal should be tied to concurrent enactment of meaningful reforms that enable federal officers to do their jobs controlling illegal immigration, both at the border and in the interior, and effecting prompt removals for those who break the law. (See, for instance, here and here.)

It's also important to recognize that a "Dreamer" amnesty would in the long run not only apply to the original recipients, but to their family members. As the Center's Jessica Vaughan recently testified before Congress:

I estimate that if 700,000 DACA beneficiaries receive LPR [lawful permanent resident] status under an amnesty, then they can be expected to sponsor at least an additional 1.4 million relatives over time. In this scenario, the award of LPR status would result in a second, de facto amnesty for the parents of DACA beneficiaries — the very individuals who brought their children to settle here illegally, creating this policy dilemma. Ultimately, an amnesty for DACA beneficiaries likely would produce more than two million new LPRs over 20 years.

According to the HuffPo article, Ryan hopes to slide a Dreamer amnesty into the budget bill now being negotiated among and between the White House,and both chambers of Congress. His past flirtations with amnesties great and small, and his apparent affinity for large-scale immigration programs, whether by family chain migration or via massive "guestworker" programs, put him into the "but by no means all" category of Republicans where immigration enforcement and control are concerned — and thus place the story squarely into the realm of entirely possible. (NumbersUSA's immigration score sheet grades Ryan in recent years as an abysmal D-.)

But, if the HuffPost article true, could Ryan be overreaching himself this time? Feelings about unchecked immigration and its harmful effects are so strong among Trump's base, not to mention many of the front-line border state governments that confront these effects daily, that it might backfire in a tremendous way.

After all, the sad reality with our existing Doolittle Congress is that there is almost no likelihood of any border security and immigration control reforms unless such bills are tied to the Dreamer legislation. Democrats and advocacy groups need to know as a certainty that it's a pay-to-play exchange. That, after all, is how they have played the game from their side, is it not? Ryan's remarks to conservatives, if they have been accurately reported, undercut that message.

Surely the Trump administration knows this and will hold firm against any attempt to winnow a Dreamer amnesty from other carefully drafted measures that help ensure that the country isn't expected to tolerate serial amnesties because nothing meaningful is done.

Topics: Politics