Having been elected on an anti-immigration platform, President Donald Trump thought that pushing an aggressively restrictionist agenda would be the path to success. He hired the ultra-restrictionist Stephen Miller—a man who reportedly said he "would be happy if not a single refugee foot ever again touched American soil"—to become the architect of his immigration strategy.
Miller, however, has led Trump into one debacle after another with his enforcement-plus agenda. He is the mastermind behind both the government shutdowns that helped Trump snatch defeat from the jaws of a deal.
A visibly chastened Trump finally reopened the government Friday after the second shutdown, but only for three weeks. During this time, a bipartisan group of lawmakers have been tasked with hammering out an immigration deal. But the odds that Democrats will give Trump money for his border barrier are quite low because they know that it is a losing issue for Trump. After all, during the last round, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn't pay a political price for her intransigence; Trump did for his stubborn insistence on a wall. Even his base got fed up and started abandoning him.
If, despite trying so hard, Trump can't push his border wall and enforcement agenda through Congress—even when his own party controlled it—it shows that outside of Trump's hardcore base, there is just not enough support for this approach. Americans are interested in border security, yes, but not walls or keeping out immigrants, as Miller wants.
Hence, in a few weeks, Trump will have a choice again, I point out in my column at The Week. He can keep on the Miller path and turn his presidency into a complete zero. Or he can pull a Nixon-goes-to-China move, fire Miller, and pivot toward innovative market-based reforms that enhance border security and mitigate any negative impact of immigration while welcoming immigrants.
These are win-win options if Trump would care to pursue them.
Go here to read the column.