For a long time I was ambivalent about the wall. I thought it would help, but I thought other things would help more.
I still believe that shutting off benefits and e-Verify coupled with sever penalties for hiring illegal aliens would do more to stop illegal immigration than $7 billion walls scaled by ladders.
I am willing to admit that I may be wrong. Perhaps a wall would do more than e-Verify.
What ultimately turned me against the wall was underfunding coupled with a land grab. There is no way you can build a secure 2,000 mile wall for $7 billion and pay all of the existing landowners on the border a fair price for their land when they lose water rights for their cattle to the Rio Grande and an 18 foot high wall splits their property in half.
Unfortunately, that has already happened.
Love the Wall
But what about a negotiating a combination. Why not e-Verify coupled with a wall?
In case you don't know, I will tell you why not.
On January 24, 2018, Democrats offered Trump $20 billion for a wall. The Atlantic reported How Democrats Stopped Worrying and Learned to Accept Trump's Wall.
Senate minority leader Schumer went to the White House and told Trump he could have his wall. “The president picked a number for the wall, and I accepted it,” Schumer recalled in the midst of the shutdown. He had agreed to a significant sum of money for the wall—reported to be $20 billion, though the Democrat’s office will neither confirm nor deny that figure—in exchange for Trump’s support of permanent protections for the nearly 700,000 young undocumented immigrants covered under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The White House ultimately rejected the offer, and later that night, Senate Democrats withheld their votes for a stopgap spending bill, leading to the three-day shutdown.
What Might Have Happened
Trump might have said OK but we need to talk.
Consider the following negotiation points had Trump accepted the offer.
- Dreamers need to verify address
- Dreamers need to have no criminal background
- Dreamers need to have been in the US for x number of years (x negotiable)
- Dreamers need to apply for a Dreamer's Card and will immediately be accepted if they meet the above criteria
- Dreamers not applying for a card and caught in a crime would immediately be deported
- e-Verify tighetened
Instead of proposing negotiation on which Trump surely would have won some points, Trump got nothing.
You are free to disagree. It's a free country. But that was one hell of a great starting point that Schumer threw on Trump's lap.
Art of the Deal Master
Being the "master" of the Art of the Deal Trump had a major concession for $20 billion to fund a wall.
If $7 billion can build a wall then $20 billion could build a double wall of the same height for perhaps $12 billion. That would leave $4 billion for buying out land owners and an additional $4 billion for overruns.
The cost would be a number of dreamers allowed to stay.
- Alien address registration
- Criminal background checks
- Immediate deportation of criminals caught
Perhaps Schumer would not have agreed to all of those. I am certain he would have agreed to some of those.
I am not even positive Schumer even needed to agree. The could have all been worded into a bill, and as we all know, no one even read them anymore.
And of course, Trump could have mandated e-Verify and criminal deportation after the bill was signed. Who would have objected?
The benefits would have been enormous.
Fattest Pitch in Political History
Schumer made an amazing offer. In fact, it was the fattest pitch in political history.
Trump could have bragged about a wall, crime reduction, deporting criminals, giving rights to Dreamers.
See the Problem?
Trump's base would not have like that deal. But his base will never leave him no matter what. And his base won't like much of anything.
Trump would have appealed to 80% of the nation instead of to his "base".
Proven Deal Buffoon
- Trump failed on NAFTA: The deal is essentially the same as before
- Trump failed on the EU: He promised a deal and has none
- Trump failed on China: The trade deficit has gone up at great expense to the US
Trump is no "Art of the Deal" master. Rather, Trump is a proven deal buffoon. The person who ghost-wrote his book says the same thing as well.
Unfortunately, we are where we are.
The amazing deal Trump had in his lap a year ago is no longer on the table. Even if by some miracle it is on the table, it will now look like a concession by Trump if he accepts it thanks to his blow-hard mouth. It won't be for $20 billion either.
Finally, this comes from someone who voted for Trump and would still do so again vs.Hillary, for numerous reasons. So don't accuse me of partisan politics.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock