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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Congress’s slow-walking on immigration endangers Trump’s entire agenda

Someone should have a sit down with John Kasich.

Close followers of American politics – or at least its recent past in the exhilarating Donald Trump era – know the outgoing Ohio governor ran for president in 2016 as a Republican. Well-informed folks also realize Kasich’s Capitolfollowing never really grew over the course of the campaign and the only state he managed to win outright (in the GOP primaries) was his own.

Nevertheless Kasich appears to be capitalizing on his fifteen minutes of Trump-coattail fame (if it was even that long) to lecture congressional Republicans on what they should be doing to remedy the ambiguity created by Trump’s ending of Barack Obama’s unconstitutional DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program.

Kasich wrote at USA Today earlier this week, “Ever since the Trump administration’s effort last fall to kill the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, 800,000 young people living in our communities have faced the fear of deportation from the only homes — and the only homeland — most have ever really known. These are the ‘DREAMers’: our neighbors, schoolmates and co-workers who were brought to America as children and, until now, were eligible to stay and lead productive lives by meeting strict DACA requirements and undergoing security checks.

“As governor of a state with many DACA residents and as a grandson of immigrants who values the immense contributions each new generation of arrivals has brought to America, I am deeply concerned by congressional inaction on DACA. Also, as a former member of Congress, I believe that election to the House or Senate carries a responsibility to solve problems and keep America on course with the values that have made our nation great.”

Notice how Kasich uses naked emotional appeal to coax average folks (reading his op-ed in the USA Today) into thinking Congress – and particularly conservative Republican congressmen – are the problem where DACA is concerned. And how do Kasich’s immigrant grandparents have anything to do with an extralegal contemporary government policy unconstitutionally created through executive order? Was their “coming to America” experience under similar circumstances? Did the Kasich family jump the southern border or overstay their visas?

Further, why should we assume all DACA-eligible persons are saintly do-gooders as Kasich insists? Are they all hard-working contributors to society? Should we go door-to-door and identify DACA recipients so as to better shield them from federal paddy wagons rolling through neighborhoods rounding up illegals and shipping them back first-class postage to their countries of origin?

As might be expected, Kasich had even more to say. He continued, “I was initially encouraged by court decisions that delayed the president’s shutdown of DACA and bought Congress time to find a bipartisan solution that would allow DREAMers to remain with us. But as Congress continues to dither and the House Republican leadership stubbornly insists on blocking all DACA debate, my hopes have turned to frustration.”

This blather is simply astonishing. Did Kasich miss all the hubbub in January when senate Democrats stonewalled on passing the federal budget (causing the #SchumerShutdown) over the DACA matter? Democrats are the ones who aren’t bargaining in good faith, demanding that the Obama-policy be codified into law without offering any concessions on the immigration issue (i.e. Trump’s border wall, an end to chain migration, terminating the disastrous and dangerous “diversity” lottery and devising a new merit-based immigration system).

Kasich is also playing on a liberal media promoted myth, namely that conservatives are against all immigration; on the contrary, we just want any official “fix” to be sane and rational. Democrats had their plain shot to preserve DACA; Trump practically bent over backwards earlier this year to give it to them. They passed, selfishly holding the “Dreamers” hostage as a campaign issue for the midterms. But no worries -- if the minority party chooses to champion illegal immigrants over hard-working U.S. citizens, Republicans and conservatives should let them.

And who the heck is John Kasich to talk anyway? Well, maybe it’s because John McCain is very sick and probably terminally ill, so the moderate/liberal establishment faction of the GOP needs a new champion. Kasich is clearly vying for the title.

It doesn’t take a genius to discern that the only reason why anyone cares what John Kasich has to say is because he finished second to Donald Trump in the all-important first-in-the-nation 2016 New Hampshire GOP primary (the Iowa caucuses took place a week before but the Hawkeye State’s odd ballot system isn’t seen as meritorious as a true one-person-one-vote primary).

Because Kasich managed a (distant) runner-up to Trump in the riveting New Hampshire retail politics extravaganza, political observers claimed he was a legitimate contender in the Republican race. Where prior to that point many conservatives wondered why Kasich was even running for president, the swampy establishment began seeing him as a possibly late-to-the-game savior for the party. After all, if Jeb Bush couldn’t manage to excite the blueblood ruling elites, maybe Kasich could.

It should be noted -- after Iowa Marco Rubio vaulted into the establishment lane (with a third place finish there behind Ted Cruz and Trump), but he was never fully trusted by the Bush Republicans (they hated the freshman senator because of his terse relationship with Jeb, both hailing from Florida). Somewhat surprisingly Rubio attracted a fair amount of conservative support at the time – essentially making Marco a kind of “hybrid” candidate somewhere in between the party elites and the conservative grassroots.

There’s no doubt where Kasich stood, however – he was an Obamacare Medicaid expansion-supporting swamp creature to the core; conservatives passed on him and his wishy-washy “let’s all get along” (with Democrats and liberals and same-sex marriage approving) message. It simply didn’t resonate with the Republican base. Just because people in the liberal northeast  took to him (in New Hampshire) didn’t mean the rest of the country would.

To put things in perspective, Trump won 35.2 percent (100,735) of the New Hampshire Republican vote on February 9; runner-up Kasich took 15.7 percent (44,932) of the tally. In other words, fewer than 45,000 voters in one small and electorally insignificant (at least in the general election) state suddenly took it upon themselves to make Kasich appear viable.

Kasich began acting that way too – like he really had a chance to win the GOP nomination – and now over two years later he’s feeling empowered to write op-eds in major newspapers on the controversial DACA issue and being mentioned by prominent #NeverTrumpers (like Bill Kristol) as a potential 2020 presidential primary challenger to Trump.

Specifically speaking, Kasich believes House Republicans should support a “discharge petition” which would trigger full House votes on the DACA issue alone. Such an imprudent move would remove any leverage conservatives now possess to force Democrats to deal on the more damaging elements of illegal immigration. Simply put, a DACA surrender would mean the end of our country as we know it.

If the term-limited Kasich thinks he’ll draw “moderate” support for his pro-amnesty views, he’s sadly mistaken. A majority of Americans may favor concessions on DACA but that doesn’t mean people are for opening the immigration floodgates. On the contrary – most folks want Congress to act – but in the direction of enforcing the laws.

Besides, Kasich is wrong -- Trump isn’t kicking any “Dreamers” out of the country these days. The recent flap over pictures of kids being detained separately from adults (incidentally, from 2014) is hardly an accurate snapshot of what’s going on. Rich Lowry wrote at National Review, “The Trump administration isn’t changing the rules that pertain to separating an adult from the child. Those remain the same. Separation happens only if officials find that the adult is falsely claiming to be the child’s parent, or is a threat to the child, or is put into criminal proceedings.

“It’s the last that is operative here. The past practice had been to give a free pass to an adult who is part of a family unit. The new Trump policy is to prosecute all adults. The idea is to send a signal that we are serious about our laws and to create a deterrent against re-entry. (Illegal entry is a misdemeanor, illegal re-entry a felony.)

“When a migrant is prosecuted for illegal entry, he or she is taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals. In no circumstance anywhere in the U.S. do the marshals care for the children of people they take into custody. The child is taken into the custody of HHS, who cares for them at temporary shelters…”

Lowry’s article explains the subject thoroughly, including describing the growing problem of illegal newcomers purposely dragging their families with them – or claiming kids as theirs once they get here – to game the system. By law the authorities can’t detain kids for the same time period as adults (therefore mandating separate facilities). Unscrupulous individuals are using the American government’s compassion against it and liberals are making a political issue out of false impressions. The fraud is obvious. Something needs to be done, and quickly.

Like Kasich, Lowry advocates for congressional action to resolve the situation, including appropriating money for additional detention facilities near the border and to change the current policy so adults won’t be incentivized to use children as “chits” to buy more time in the court system. Family units could then stay together in the interim period (between adjudication) and we’d be one step closer to a workable arrangement where the law could be enforced.

Lowry’s is an interesting suggestion, open to debate. But the point is, Congress doesn’t seem to be doing a whole lot these days to solve any problems much less those that are border related. If political leaders won’t summons the gumption to deal with a high-profile issue like DACA it’s highly unlikely they’ll address the continuing malaise along the border.

It’s a part of life in today’s gridlocked political system, but also has roots in the Republican majority’s inability to get anything done ahead of this year’s midterm elections. It’s about time they stopped making excuses and did some actual legislating.

The Editors of the Washington Examiner wrote, “Republicans have less than six months until the midterm elections to convince voters to renew their majorities. They will point to tax cuts (bravo) and to Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch (again, bravo). But these accomplishments do not add up to a job well done. Some will even point to the limited rollback of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation, and they can legitimately point to the more extensive cutting of red tape. Each is a significant achievement, to be sure. But none lives up to the pedal-to-the-metal, no-holds-barred, Mach-10 pre-inauguration hype...

“Political headwinds face the GOP in November. There are signs that the blue Democratic wave may be less overwhelming than it seemed two months ago. But the odds of losing at least one chamber are high. Republicans ought to use every parliamentary tool at their disposal, such as budget reconciliation, and take on every big issue, such as Obamacare repeal. Success isn’t guaranteed, but failure is inevitable if Republicans don’t even try.

“And if they don’t even try during ‘the dawn of a new unified Republican government,’ it might already be high noon, and November may prove to be dusk.”

A good sound argument, something conservatives have been advancing for months – trying any tack to get GOP leaders to work longer and harder at producing something voters can chew on. Instead it looks like we’ll get the same crap sandwich come November -- a choice between Republicans’ “maybe we’ll get to it” and Democrats’ “we hate Trump and so should you.”

Not many politicians are making convincing cases that today’s most pressing problems will be solved – or even addressed – by Congress as it is. Washed up opportunists like John Kasich can write all the op-eds they want, but if Congress doesn’t get new leadership, nothing changes.

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