No compromise on DACA–or the wall

Dear Joel,

You asked earlier this week what Democrats would be willing to trade to insure that the Trump administration would not deport young people who came to the US as children without the benefits of legal immigration.


Yes, politics is the art of compromise, and I think those in Washington should do more of it. I think that well-intentioned, well-informed, caring people can genuinely disagree about how we define a problem, how we measure it, where we should place it in our national priorities, and how (or even if) we should resolve it. Most problems have more than one solution, and we know at least a few things that work toward addressing our hardest problems–racism, poverty, climate change.

Against those intractable problems, this wall isn’t terrible. I mean, it’s stupid and expensive and unnecessary, since the problem of mass illegal border crossings just isn’t happening, and it’s disruptive to those who live on the border, including the wildlife. Oh, and it will require a massive land grab that I hope prompts the Lone Star state to threaten a Texit. And, yes, it’s racist, which is the only reason it was even suggested.

But all of those are reasons to think that the border wall isn’t going to happen anyway. Most Americans oppose it. Most Texans don’t want it.  But, as November taught us, the majority doesn’t rule in our political system. What really matters is whether members of Congress can find the gumption to vote against this wall.

I think we can help them.

I think we can fight the wall and win on purely practical grounds. Texas needs help right now. Florida is about to need our help. (Yes, Puerto Rico too–and even more, but the people who live there aren’t white Republican voters who have the power to stop the wall.) Every dollar on a border wall is a dollar taken away from a person now displaced by hurricanes. Republican Senators Cornyn, Cruz, and Rubio, Florida’s 16 Republican Representatives (out of a total of 27), and Texas’s 26 Republican Representatives (out of 36) need to understand that any vote for a border wall is a vote against help for hurricane clean up and rebuilding. No member of Congress who lives on the border supports the wall, and they need to understand, from their own constituents, that dollars for the wall will hurt their home states. They need to hear it all the time, and they need to remind their friends in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama that, next time, it could be them up to their armpits in sewage and snakes.

Image result for irma

Above, a view of Hurricane Irma.

If it feels mean to trade hurricane relief for Dreamers, please trust that I’m not trying to withhold help for those whose lives have been upended by climate change. I’m trying to make sure that the wall doesn’t get built, Dreamers don’t get deported, and help is provided for those hit by hurricanes. We can do all of them because, well, call me dopey, but we’re America.


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