On Thursday afternoon Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on the floor of the Senate that President Donald Trump would sign the compromise legislation that was pushed by leaders in both parties and issue a national emergency declaration concerning the situation at the southern border.

The bipartisan deal brokered by McConnell and Congressional Democrats was unveiled late Wednesday evening and spoiler alert, it’s not a good one. As Trump himself said in Art of the Deal:

“The worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to make it. That makes the other guy smell blood, and then you’re dead.”

Senate Republicans were desperate and thus got taken to the woodshed by their Democrat counterparts. Here are the highlights of their surrender:

  • The bill contains less wall funding than Democrats have already agreed to and undermines his ability to build it.

Estimates for total construction of the wall are often in the ballpark of $25 billion. Going into the shutdown negotiations, Trump asked Democrats to come up with a down payment of $5.6 billion. They refused and offered only $1.6 billion before Christmas which Trump then refused as too meager.

This bill provides only $1.375 billion in funding (enough to construct 55 miles), but also limits Trump’s ability to construct it. The manner is reduced to the steel bollard fencing in the Rio Grande Valley portion of the border with no concrete walls of any kind allowed.

To further complicate matters, a provision in the bill prohibits wall construction in several locations and grants liberal local officials veto authority on wall construction.

  • The bill provides defense to deportation of illegal alien cartel smugglers.

Under the terms of the bill, immigration agents are prohibited from deporting individuals “sponsoring an “unaccompanied” minor illegal alien – or who say they might sponsor a UAC, or lives in a household with a UAC, or a household that potentially might sponsor a UAC.”

Conservatives say this provision is perhaps the most concerning. In the words of Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies:

“We can call this the MS-13 Household Protection Act of 2019. We know that 80 percent of the UAC sponsors are in the country illegally. The number of people this would protect would reach into the hundreds of thousands, if all of the household or potential household members are counted. ICE has estimated that 30-40 percent of the MS-13 members it has arrested in the last two years arrived as UACs.’

 

There is no reason to shield any of these individuals from deportation. After all, if the minor is living with family, they should no longer be considered unaccompanied anyway. If there are illegal aliens here who do not yet have a child here to serve as a deportation shield, this certainly is an incentive for them to make the arrangements to bring one.”

Freshman Congressman Chip Roy (R-TX) agrees.

  • The bill provides more funding to programs that allow illegal immigrants to remain in the country while keeping deportation program funding stagnant.

While offering no new funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation agents or immigration judges to speed up asylum claims, the bill adds $40 million in funding to the Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program which moves asylum-seekers to facilities in the interior of the country, where they are usually released.

At the same time, this bill reduces border detention beds from 49,060 to 40,520, it contains no funding for more border agents.

  • Federal employees are getting a pay raise.

Remember all those federal government workers who got a month off of work during the shutdown? They’re all getting an across the board pay increase of 1.9 percent.

Republicans of all stripes should be incensed that party leaders are pitching this plan as a good thing. While Trump’s decision to sign the legislation is certainly disappointing, the refusal of so many conservatives to stand up and fight is a failure.

So far Trump and some conservative Congressional Republicans have appeared to be the only ones even wanting to appear as though they want to secure the border. Most Republicans seem to believe the crisis on the border nothing more than annoying chore and the citizens who want them to do something about it (the same individuals who elected them to office based off their promises to do so) nothing but nags.

Indeed, in all of this perhaps the most galling has been the meekness of Texas’ own congressional delegation—those whose citizens feel the greatest consequences from federal lawmakers’ refusal to secure the border. Yet outside of Congressmen Louie Gohmert and conservative freshmen like Chip Roy and Dan Crenshaw, they’ve largely been silent.

Congress is refusing to provide adequate support to President Trump on building the wall, but ultimately the buck stops with him. Hopefully his emergency declaration and executive authority provides enough power to make real progress on the wall, otherwise Americans security (and Republicans electoral prospects) will continue to be further diminished.

“You can’t con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole. But if you don’t deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on.”—Donald Trump in the Art of the Deal

Cary Cheshire

Cary Cheshire is the Vice President of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility. A 6th Generation Texan, Cary attended Texas A&M University was active in a number of conservative causes including Ted Cruz's Senate campaign. He has also worked on campaigns to elect conservatives to Congress and the Texas Legislature. Cary enjoys college football, genealogy research, and the occasional craft beer.

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