Senator Tom Cotton
By Ray O’Hanlon
By calling an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and throwing the issue into the political sausage machine that is the current Congress, the Trump administration is no wiser than anyone else as to what happens now.
What might happen, however, is at the end of a process that will proceed one way or another, Congress could end up with immigration legislation that will be the political version of sausage.
In other words, everything and anything.
Or perhaps nothing at all.
Such is the state of the immigration debate in 2017 America.
DACA now finds itself nudging up against efforts in Congress to make it permanent, and to permanently end it.
It also finds itself facing a phalanx of legislators who support President Trump’s desire to build a wall along the border with Mexico, and lawmakers who want not only to limit legal immigration but want to upend the very nature of U.S. immigration law that has been in force since implementation of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act.
One such legislator is Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, crafter of the RAISE Act, a measure that would cut legal immigration in half over the course of a decade and also shift its foundations away from the ’65 act’s emphasis on family reunification to a system based more on merit.
CBS reported Wednesday that Senator Cotton was applauding the Trump administration's move toward ending the DACA program, but also warning that if Congress were to ultimately award legal status to young immigrants, it would have "negative consequences."
"You can't dispute, just as a logical matter, if we give legal status that it's going to encourage more immigration," Cotton told the network.
“We should have an open, common sense discussion about that."
Common sense discussions, alas, have been rare on Capitol Hill in recent years.
As CBS reported: Cotton said that President Trump was attempting "to deal with this situation in the most orderly way possible" by having Congress step in and take action, something he says he's happy to help with in order to "forge some kind of compromise."
That compromise would presumably include Cotton’s own RAISE Act, which President Trump has lauded, something on DACA, something on a wall, and something on more stringent enforcement of immigration laws within America’s borders.
In other words, a big dollop of said political sausage.
Cotton’s measure, The Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy act, is co-sponsored by fellow Republican, Senator David Perdue of Georgia.
The bill proposes a "points-based system" for acquiring a green card and Cotton has stated that this would bring an end to “unlimited family chain migration.”
This is the torpedo aimed at the ‘65 act.
The RAISE Act also takes aim at the Diversity Visa Program which has its origins in the early 1990s and is just about the only way right now that a would-be Irish immigrant can hope to secure a green card.
And the securing is mostly based on hope because the odds of an Irish applicant laying hands on one of the 50,000 annual diversity visas are very long indeed.
In a typical year Irish applicants might secure only a couple of hundred diversity lottery green cards.
By way of example, a mere sixteen applicants from Northern Ireland have secured green cards for 2018 under the program, while the total for the Republic is just 123.
According to a Washington Post report that followed the unveiling of the RAISE Act last month, the act is expected to face “fierce resistance from congressional Democrats and immigrant rights groups” and could face opposition from business leaders and some moderate Republicans in states with large immigrant populations.
But now the act has a companion – or perhaps a hostage – in the DACA program.
Senator Cotton told CBS that while Congress had failed three times to pass sweeping immigration reform, it was now time to take a "different incremental approach."
This implies a lot of horse trading in the months ahead, and a possible mélange of legislative results that will be far from pleasing to everybody.
That’s assuming any result at all.