Immigration decision likely to boomerang on the president and the Republican Party: Our view

In politics, the “wedge issue” is a weapon deployed to gain tactical advantage. You find some hot-button social controversy — crime, say, or gay marriage — and push it aggressively to divide the opposition and leave it dispirited.

President Trump’s decision on Tuesday to rescind an Obama-era executive order protecting 800,000 “dreamers” — undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children — represents a variant. Call it the reverse wedge issue. Trump has applied it in the manner of a boomerang against himself and his party.

Republicans are divided over DACA. Immigration purists want nothing short of mass deportations, while political pragmatists fear that ending it will do long-term damage both to innocent people and to the party.

REP. PAUL GOSAR: Roll back DACA and restore rule of law

The pragmatists are right to worry. Deportations, if they actually come in six months when Trump’s action is set to take effect, would be a disaster on many levels. Dreamers — hardworking, well-integrated, U.S.-educated — are a vital part of the American economy. Some did heroic work during Hurricane Harvey.

They also engender widespread support from the American public and U.S. business interests. Because Hispanics and other immigrants are growing rapidly as a percentage of the electorate, the DACA rescission — hard on the heels of the controversial pardon of immigrant-bashing former sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona — appears destined to hurt the GOP with these voters for years to come. 

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, were among those urging Trump not to rescind DACA. And even Trump seemed of two minds about his own decision, saying he has “great love” for the dreamers. He left the announcement to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and tweeted that Congress needed to essentially reverse his decision by codifying DACA.

Congress should have passed such a law long ago. That would have ensured a president couldn’t rescind it on his own and put Congress on the side of doing what is right.

Trump apparently believes that he can use the dreamers as bargaining chips to force Congress to fund a border wall or other priorities. That is folly. Too many Republicans, particularly in the House, are hardened in their opposition to DACA. And…