Why Democrats Must Not Trade DACA For Trump’s Wall


We agree with Trump: a federal judge’s decision we told you about to block the President from ending DACA will never hold up. (Although we think it’s a sign of a robust and vigorous court system, not a “broken” and “unfair” one). We believe it’s very possible the judge issuing the ruling doesn’t even think it will. Nor did doors Trump slammed shut open back up because of the ruling. Dreamers couldn’t extend their protection yesterday, they still can’t extend it today: the Department of Homeland Security’s website is pretty clear on that. (And as if to put an exclamation point on Trump’s immigration stance, federal agents raided 7–11’s across the country. ICE says it’s actually a continuation of a program President Obama introduced, to crackdown on franchise owners who employ undocumented workers. However, there’s no arguing Trump’s approach isn’t hugely flashier).

We hope it’ll turn out to be a moot point anyway, with Congress coming to an agreement that will allow undocumented immigrants who came here as children to stay in the country. Problem is, right now Trump says that won’t happen without giving him at least an $18-billion dollar down-payment on the wall. You can watch his latest exchange with a reporter on that here:

If you drill down into Judge William Alsup’s ruling (which we’ve linked to in its entirety here), he makes a crucially important point, and it’s one The Chaos Report has been making for months. (These are Judge Alsup’s words, not ours):

“One…possibility suggested by plaintiffs is that the rescission [of DACA] was contrived to give the administration a bargaining chip to demand funding for a border wall in exchange for reviving DACA. A presidential tweet after our hearing gives credence to this claim.”

When Trump first took office, many Republicans opposed his wall on the grounds that it was expensive and unnecessary. But opposition to that (and so many other things) has melted away on that side of the aisle as Trump has shown more interest in signing things than the content of what he’s signing, gaining Republican support by blindly supporting Republicans on taxes and other things.

We’ve also often said Trump’s wall is almost an inevitability. There’s nothing Trump wants more. He needs a grand monument to himself above all else. An indelible mark of his Presidency. And it’s an easy thing to trade away: because aside from putting an undue burden on American taxpayers, it’s mostly symbolic; doing far less direct damage than a lot of other social and environmental policies Trump wants to enact.

That’s part of why both the Washington Post Editorial Board and Conservative thinker Rich Lowry in Politico Magazine are urging Dems — as Lowry puts it — to “Buy Off Trump With The Wall”. To which we would add a one-word prefix: “Don’t”. It’s a tragic waste of political capital, especially when Democrats have the power to get DACA without it. It might involve a government shutdown, and some bumps and bruises. But this is one case, unlike tax cuts or health care, where Democrats ultimately do have the votes. If they’ve got the backbone.

Democrats need to trade the wall for something they really, really need that Trump truly doesn’t want to give them. Not for something that we (and the judge) thinks Trump actually wants anyway (plus he’s said so).

Democrats buckle on this, and it’s all over, Trump wins. He’ll know he can push them around forever (or at least until the next Congress).

Border wall prototypes

(This story originally appeared in “The Chaos Report” Newsletter. Subscribe at

Why Democrats Must Not Trade DACA For Trump’s Wall was originally published in The Chaos Report on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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