U.S. President Donald Trump makes a statement from the Roosevelt Room next to the empty chairs of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (L), D-New York, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (R), D-California, after they cancelled their meeting at the White House in Washington, DC, on November 28, 2017.
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

What Trump chooses not to understand about Democrats and immigration

Updated

At a cabinet meeting at the White House yesterday, Donald Trump threw a bit of a tantrum over congressional Democrats and their opposition to his immigration plans. The presidential rant went on for a while, but here’s an excerpt from the official transcript:

“[Democrats] don’t care about the children. They don’t care about the injury. They don’t care about the problems. They don’t care about anything. All they do is say, ‘Obstruct, and let’s see how we do.’ Because they have no policies that are any good. They’re not good politicians. They got nothing going. All they’re good at is obstructing.

“And they generally stick together. I respect them for that. That’s about it. Their policies stink. They’re no good. They have no ideas. They have no nothing – the Democrats. All they can do is obstruct, and stay together, and vote against, and make it impossible to take care of children and families and to take care of immigration.”

As if the tirade needed a little something extra, Trump added that Democrats “created, and they’ve let it happen, a massive child-smuggling industry.”

But if we look past the hysterical nature of the president’s whining, is there a credible point underneath? Is it possible that Democrats aren’t willing to work constructively on the issue because they’d rather use this as a campaign issue in the fall?

Actually, no. We know this with certainty because the facts are plain, even if Trump prefers to ignore them.

As we discussed the other day, Democratic leaders, far from engaging in knee-jerk obstructionism on immigration, sat down, worked on possible solutions, negotiated in good faith, and endorsed six different bipartisan immigration packages. The White House Trump rejected each of them.

If the only thing Dems cared about was a political issue they could exploit in an election year, they would’ve done what Republicans did in the Obama era: sit on their hands and refuse to compromise. Instead, the Democratic minority did the opposite.

More recently, House Democrats agreed to work on a compromise immigration package with House Republican moderates, and the effort appeared to be on track – right up until GOP leaders killed it. (House Speaker Paul Ryan was reportedly “desperate” to see the bipartisan bill fail.)

Last week, House GOP members got to work on a separate compromise immigration proposal, involving conservative Republicans and not-quite-as-conservative Republicans. Congressional Democrats were “cut out of negotiations.”

Apparently, it dawned on GOP officials quite recently that a far-right immigration bill, negotiated in private between competing Republican factions – without any Democratic input – would need quite a few Democratic votes in the Senate. And wouldn’t you know it, some Senate Dems aren’t eager to support an aggressively partisan GOP proposal that largely ignores Democratic priorities.

It didn’t have to be this way, but if White House officials want to understand why the Republican effort turned into such a fiasco, they shouldn’t be looking at Democrats.