Republicans won't allow a Trump immigration deal

Even if Trump and Democrats agree to a deal, the hard-right Freedom Caucus could still kill it

Published January 29, 2018 12:01PM (EST)

Chuck Schumer; Donald Trump (AP/J. Scott Applewhite/Getty/Ron Sachs)
Chuck Schumer; Donald Trump (AP/J. Scott Applewhite/Getty/Ron Sachs)

President Donald Trump and leaders of both major parties have been negotiating over a possible deal on immigration, which would allow some sort of legal status for people currently protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. On Monday, Trump told reporters that he's working on getting a deal done on the issue, something he proposed on Twitter this past weekend.

But it should be apparent that the president's party won't allow it to happen. Because, even if Trump and congressional Democrats were able to come to some sort of arrangement, there's a very real possibility that members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus would kill it.

For proof, go back to 2013, when Senate Republicans and Democrats worked out a deal to give citizenship status to DACA recipients. Although the bill passed the Senate, it was never even brought up for a vote in the House, based on a practice the GOP in the lower chamber has followed for several years.

Dubbed "the Hastert Rule" after former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, the practice holds that the GOP will not bring up legislation to a vote that does not command support from a majority of Republican members. And, there is no indication whatsoever that most GOP representatives support wide-ranging immigration compromise. Current House Speaker Paul Ryan has already scuttled a deal reached by several Republican and Democratic senators as non-binding, since he was not part of their negotiations.

Of course that's assuming that any sort of immigration deal could even be agreed upon at all. Trump is already facing enormous pressure from far-right media outlets about the immigration proposal the White House announced last week, which Democrats have declined to accept.

While Democrats have continued to negotiate, Trump's base wants him to avoid doing it. Pro-Trump sites like Breitbart News have dubbed the president "Amnesty Don" and warned him that an immigration law which grants citizenship would be a betrayal of his base.

"Granting a pathway to U.S. citizenship to DACA illegal aliens would break Trump’s long-held campaign promise that no amnesty for illegal aliens would be granted until illegal immigration to the U.S. was fully ended," Breitbart reporter John Binder wrote on Wednesday.

By Matthew Sheffield

A writer, web developer, and former tv producer, Matthew Sheffield covers politics, media, and technology for Salon. You can email him via or follow him on Twitter.

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