Maybe moderation and compromise will win the day after all.
Senate Democrats decided their strategy was not a good one in making their votes on keeping the federal government operational contingent upon a guarantee that so-called “Dreamers” can stay in this country. An estimated 700,000 young immigrants are voluntarily enrolled in the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, which President Donald Trump ended last fall. They face deportation, but Trump and the Republican majority are likely to go along with a reasonable solution short of such action.
Democrats gave Trump and the Republicans real ammunition in allowing the government shutdown. It was so easy for the GOP to counter that Democrats care more about the Dreamers than they do American citizens. And more about the Dreamers than American military personnel facing furloughs had the shutdown continued.
Moderate voices arose to end the government shutdown, but can they engineer a solution that achieves both an avenue to citizenship for the Dreamers while once and for all taking action on border security and immigration reform? If the voices of the extreme left prevail, there will be no going along with anything close to Trump’s wall. If the far right wins the day, there will be a hard line on immigration – Dreamers and all others.
The solution is indeed somewhere in the middle – where South Carolina U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham is on the immigration issue.
Graham was among opponents of the resolution to temporarily keep the government operating in last Friday’s vote, but he changed positions once there was an agreement by Senate leadership to address the immigration issue by Feb. 8.
His words after the vote to restart the government on Monday: “Ending the government shutdown stops the losing for the country. But it’s not winning. Winning is solving the nation’s problems.
“Winning is ensuring we have the funding needed for our military to meet the tremendous challenges they face. Nothing means more to me than making sure we take care of our military’s needs as they fight a war we can’t afford to lose. Today, we took a giant step forward in that direction.
“Winning is ensuring we have a process in place to deal with expiration of DACA, as these young people know no other home than the United States.
“I believe the process we have created will allow us to get a result on these and other important issues. I enjoyed working with my colleagues – on both sides of the aisle – as we searched for breakthroughs that would not only keep the government running, but ultimately make it work for the American people.”
The senator is and will continue to take heat from the right but should stick to his position. He understands that funding the military with short-term measures is not the same as Congress doing its duty and approving a budget that establishes parameters for funding going forward.
And he understands that immigration reform is as much about what to do about illegals in the country as it is about security and tougher entry standards.
Calling Graham a liberal on immigration is simply not accurate. He has solid conservative credentials, but is being a realist. And if that position costs him in the end, so be it.
As far back as 2005, Graham said straight up how he views his job as a senator: "I will fight for the conservative cause because I believe in it. I will break away when I think the country needs me to break away to find middle ground. But I will not use this job to hate people. There are some people on the right and the left, (who) expect you not only to vote with them, but to hate the people they hate. Count me out."
Let’s hope more people on both sides of the political aisle will take such a stand.