Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., left, walks with President Donald Trump as they head to a meeting of House Republicans to discuss a GOP immigration bill at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

 

President Trump was at a gathering of congressional Republicans on Capitol Hill last night and, as might be expected, the subject of the detention of illegal child immigrants was high on the discussion list. According to Jonathan Swan of Axios, Trump is unhappy with the optics of the situation and with the situation, itself, but he knows what is at stake.

A senior administration official, after Axios asked whether Trump thinks the family separation issue is a political winner because it makes him look “hardcore” on the border:

  • “Not at all. He’s doing it to press the case with Congress. He’s moved personally, but also doesn’t want to look weak. He feels boxed in, is frustrated and knows it’s bad politics — but also understands it’s not a fight he can back down from.”
  • “This isn’t a political play at all. There are easier ways to pick fights on immigration or better cultural issues.”

I think this is completely correct.

If Trump relents on enforcing black-letter law, particularly on the border, and goes full “prosecutorial discretion” like Obama did with DACA, the people who have stuck with him through a lot of ugly stuff are going walk away from him. Right now, the only hold Trump has over the GOP leadership is that he can make the life of members very unpleasant by criticizing them and letting his supporters pound them with “petitions for the redress of grievances.” Right now 55% of the GOP approve of his handling of the issue. If he backtracks that number plummets to zero AND no one takes him at his word anymore.

What is more, is the fact that we all know that this is not about illegal immigrants who are minors. This is about a) breaking Trump and b) stopping the enforcement of immigration laws. Last night, Senate minority creature Chuck Schumer declared that he would entertain no legislative solution to the problem. The only solution was for Trump to fix it. This is a variation of the same attack used when DACA was considered earlier in the year. The Democrats were trying to bootstrap a fix for DACA enrollees that is probably supported by 80% of Americans into a widespread amnesty for parent and relatives of DACA enrollees, a path to citizenship for those parents and relatives, and it gave them the ability to sponsor family members. As a result, there was no solution. But a solution to DACA was never the end game for the Democrats, they were trying to create a massive, perpetual path to legalize illegals and beat Trump on immigration.

In fact, the Democrats are so confident of what they are doing, that they don’t even bother hiding it. This is from NBC’s Benjy Sarlin:

As an aside, if you want reasons to NOT support family detention, this article is full of them.

In fact, monitoring is simply not enforceable. Ankle bracelets can work with many people because they have fixed address and their appearance is secured by bond. With illegals, none of this applies.

There you have it. The real goal here is to make catch-and-release the policy for families of illegal immigrants with no thought, whatsoever, to the moral hazard and opportunity for human trafficking we’re creating.

President Trump and his administration are, in my view, acting correctly on the issue of how they process children traveling with putative family members when they are caught illegally entering the United States. He and his advisors need to hang tough on this because it is a make or break fight. If he loses it, keeping the House becomes more of a challenge, his ability to fight it out with Mueller decreases and he loses clout in Congress. None of these are good things.

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