The country is yawning as Washington wrangles over another possible government shutdown this weekend, and no wonder. The fight is over a difference of merely $3.4 billion in funding for border security. If Donald Trump really wants a political fight worth having, and a chance to retrieve his public standing, he’d go much bigger and offer legalization for the Dreamers in return for his money.
At this late stage such a trade isn’t likely. Republicans who lost in November want to get out of town, and Democrats figure they’ll be in a stronger position in January when they run the House. We are left with one of those shutdown spectacles in which the rhetoric is so bitter because the stakes are so small.
.. Another possibility is to pass a continuing resolution through the new year and delay the fight until the next Congress convenes. The gambit is that the politics will be cleaner for Republicans when they can blame Democrats who will then be running the House. Yet President Trump is even less likely to prevail on border funding next year without making even larger concessions.
All of which is a reminder of Mr. Trump’s immigration lost opportunity. With his restrictionist campaign credentials, he was perfectly positioned to strike a deal that settled at least some of our immigration dilemmas.
He had leverage with Democrats on the Dreamers
.. The GOP “compromise” bill in June had $23 billion for border security, but it lost in a rout when Mr. Trump offered only diffident support. Mr. Trump was given bad advice by White House aide Stephen Miller and cable-TV scolds that immigration would be the GOP’s killer issue in the fall.
It killed Republicans all right. The summer brought the family separation fiasco, and no amount of last-minute campaign hype about the caravan from Central America could save Republicans in the suburbs. As Minnesota Rep. Erik Paulsen told us early last year, an immigration deal would have given him another accomplishment to tout and removed a vote-mobilizer for Democrats. Mr. Paulsen was among the 30 or so House GOP incumbents who lost...If Democrats aren’t willing to offer more border security in exchange for a deal on the Dreamers, something the party has made a signature issue, then that will expose the left’s political cynicism.
.. Mr. Trump is in far more re-election trouble than he realizes. He has alienated suburban Republicans with the crude way he behaves, and the many legal and political investigations won’t stop until he has left office, if then. He needs to change voter perceptions. A deal on immigration would show he can solve problems that other Presidents couldn’t.