How Donald, Chuck and Nancy Can All Claim Victory [OPINION]
With 218 years between them, President Donald Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer have been charged with finding an agreement on border control that the Democrats in Congress can agree to and the American people can live with.
Good luck with all of that, right? These three cranky old folks can't even stand being in the same room together, let alone hash out some major differences to find a compromise.
Round one took place today with the Democratic pair delivered to the White House, in just a 3.6-mile, 11-minute trip. The meeting ended in about one-tenth the time it took to drive there. As it was told, Pelosi immediately said she would not be willing to discuss anything that included a wall.
Trump may have been a bit miffed that the pair declined his opulent West Wing offerings of Skittles, Butterfingers and Baby Ruth bars. As soon as Pelosi slammed his wall idea, The Donald slammed the table (according to Schumer) and left the meeting, saying, "This was a waste of my time" as he walked away.
Schumer and Pelosi spoke with their fawning liberal media pals who were very willing to offer empathetic questions about the big, bad president.
We know Trump is no diplomat, no politician. So what is Pelosi's excuse? That is the couth and cunning she brings to the table as a polished, professional, career politician. She nuked the president's crown jewel of the conversation seconds after he sat down. This was by design.
I also think this is a bad miscalculation of how the American people will digest this meeting.
Each of the teams here believes the other will be seen as the villain. It doesn't seem to occur to them that both could be held as guilty but in Trump's case, we know he is willing to hold his breath, take his ball home and/or cross his arms.
Hundreds of thousands of federal workers are either working without pay or driving for Uber while they wait to return to work. Farmers are falling behind in their government loans with no one to facilitate the monthly obligations in Washington.
Pressure is mounting, but who will blink first?
Will it be the president, who is willing to continue with this partial shut down in order to force the Democrats to vote to fund his wall or possibly an alternative solution with enough red meat to appease his base?
Morally, he has the high ground he is trying to make the country safer. He can point to the economic impact, the flow of drugs, the additional crimes added to the nation through the actions of some illegal migrants.
Politically, his position is not just popular with his base, but almost every poll shows that the majority of Americans are tired of the exploited borders and abuse of taxpayer resources accessed by illegal migrants.
Or will the Democrats give in, knowing that they are playing a risky game prolonging the hardship for those Americans directly affected by the shutdown for the sake of keeping the borders open? The result is the continued flow of undocumented foreign migrants and dangerous drugs into the country.
While they don't want to show it, Schumer and Pelosi are facing enormous pressure to find a deal.
The Democrats seem to be facing a harder sell to the American people if you ask me. I really think this Immigration issue has been the Achilles heel for them for the last six elections and it is likely to continue. Recent polls show that 68 percent of Democratic voters want the borders secured.
One obstacle to any progress that we should note is that both Schumer and Pelosi belong to states ( New York and California) that are pushing for more and more funding and rights for illegal immigrants even with no compliance requirements.
The timing could be bad as the two leaders of the Democratic Party happen to belong to states that don't share the national sentiment, but a more liberal one.
President Trump is seeking just over $5 billion for construction of border walls for several hundred more miles than exists today along the 1,945 miles of U.S.-Mexican border.
What is Schumer's problem? He voted to add 700 miles of fencing in 2006. It's a rhetorical question because the answer is the New Democrats, the Ocasio-Cortez wing of the party, now identify any security measures at the border as racist and hateful.
Schumer and Pelosi, like most older Democrats, have become leery of these new radically left youngsters now in office, who have already supplanted some of their closest friends.
Here is how to get an agreement:
Trump must insist on funding for:
- Double the amount of Border Patrol Agents.
- Physical barriers as part of the plan but accompanied by advanced cameras, sophisticated motion detectors and infrared sensors, sound detection systems, drug-detecting K-9s, drones, dedicated satellite intelligence focused on detecting border-related activity.
- Small military installations along the border, equipped with rapid deployment units in proximity to respond to armed assaults directed at Border Patrol along problematic human and drug trafficking routes.
- Requirements for all catch-and-release undocumented migrants to comply to provide Immigration and Customs Enforcement with saliva swabs for DNA in order to document positive identification.
- Migrants 18 years of age and older must be willing to wear an unremovable GPS microchip to be kept on their arms or ankles for constant location purposes. The chips must remain attached to the subjects until they are either granted a legal stay in the United States by a judge or until they are deported. Any intentional separation from the GPS locator device, and the adult migrant results in an emergency priority warrant for a deportation hearing.
- Those granted a path to citizenship must pay a fine, of which an agreed upon percentage goes toward financially assisting with the transportation costs for those applicants abroad who are abiding with our laws and are eventually invited to enter the United States.
- More courts, judges and, staffing for more speedy deportation/refugee claim cases.
- In addition to funding the expanded courts, a sharp-teeth law with permanent bans for anyone deported and found inside the United States afterward. A one-year sentence first offense followed by deportation, and a five-year sentence followed by deportation for every repeat offense.
- Capital punishment for murdering a Border Patrol Agent.
- Attach this to the Catch-and-Release policy: deny citizens of C&R if they are applying for a visa or refugee status but are coming from a nation who does not agree to full extradition rights for fugitives wanted by the United States.
- Full auditing and monitoring of foreign-aid funds. Recipients must be able to demonstrate that the money is not being misappropriated with fines and penalties as a consequence.
- Charge the cost for all deportations after January 1, 2021, to the nations of origin of the migrant(s). Subtract from whatever the foreign aid fund for that nation would be for that fiscal year.
Democrats can probably get a few demands of theirs across if they can live with the above.
- Speedier processing of worker visas.
- Funding for more immigration attorneys to assist the claimants.
- Facilities at the border that can house adults and separate ones that can house entire families in order to prevent separation once apprehended after attempting illegal entrance in the country.
- A change to housing laws, allowing for assistance while awaiting deportation hearings.
- Funding to assist migrants with housing and employment while in limbo pre-hearing and during any appeal process.
If these concessions can be agreed upon, Democrats walk away with the above demands with a political victory of a sort. The wall would not be a wall. Schumer and Pelosi were adamant about stopping Trump's wall.
They get their catch-and-release policy to continue (albeit with unprecedented monitoring over the migrants) and a speedier hearing process, which has long been a demand of theirs.
They achieve a more humane and tolerable environment for illegal migrants as they wait for their day in court to ask for asylum or the right to remain in the U.S. as they work toward citizenship.
For Trump and Republicans, they get substantial border security enhancement. The chip implants almost guarantee a very low risk of flight from courts for those in the catch-and-release status. Today, 90 percent fail to show.
They bring the immigration flow down to a tolerable rate with physical and technological deterrents to enter illegally and equally difficult to remain if successful. The barriers, human resources, and detection systems would cripple the illegal trafficker's ability to move toward the border in even the most remote areas.
All migrants would be denied housing, employment, etc. without demonstrating that they have been swabbed for DNA and have a microchip locator on their person while they await visa hearings.
The Border Patrol Agents have their improved security with more agents, heavier consequences for attacking them and quick response military support in case they do come under attack by armed human traffickers or drug cartels.
Washington is a city of compromise. Especially when there is a balance of power between the parties. Let common sense prevail.
Ken Pittman is the host of The Ken Pittman Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @RadioKenPittman. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.