Views From The Edge
By Ed Diokno
By now you’ve likely heard about the racist comments uttered by Donald Trump. The noise and fury arising from those remarks drowned out the reason the meeting was being held.
What has almost been lost in the coverage of the story, is that two senators came forward with a bipartisan deal that might have been a solution for the 800,000 young Dreamers who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. About 13,000 of the almost 800,000 DACA participants are from Asia, mostly from South Korea, the Philippines, India, and Pakistan.
Once again, @realDonaldTrump is dividing our nation. His statement today in the Oval Office was beyond the pale, even for him. If the stark racism of @POTUS makes you angry, help us take back the House and Senate this November. And this January 20, go march. https://t.co/iUyHpFPtJN
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) January 11, 2018
Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham were meeting with Trump to discuss a compromise plan from a bipartisan “Gang of Six” senators. The other members of the “Gang of Six” included Republicans Jeff Flake and Cory Gardner and Democrats Michael Bennet and Bob Menendez.
Durbin and Graham arrived at the White House expecting to meet with Trump, but they were surprised that also invited to the meeting were a group of Republican senators noted for their hardline positions on immigration. Those hardliners included Republican Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue and Republican Reps. Bob Goodlatte, Kevin McCarthy, and Mario Diaz-Balart . From the get-go, the meeting was stacked to set up a rejection of any compromise, putting into jeopardy the ability for Congress to meet the Jan. 19 deadline for reaching agreement on government spending. Many Democrats insist that action on DACA must be met before they agree to a budget.
As Durbin explained the “Gang of Six” compromise and reached the part about extending protections for refugees from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti, Trump then interjected his now infamous remarks.
“Why do we want all these people from ‘sh*thole countries’ coming here?” Trump told senators in the Oval Office. Those remarks blew up any further discussion on the DACA compromise.
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The Gang of Six’s proposal included a path to citizenship for all Dreamers — not just those who put their trust in government by enrolling in DACA, thus putting them at risk of deportation under the current administration.
In addition, they proposed a down payment of the $1.6 billion requested by the administration this year on border security, limits to the ability of recipients to sponsor family members, and an end to the diversity lottery and reallocation of those visas in part to cover people who were under Temporary Protected Status, according to CNN.
Cotton, Perdue, Goodlatte, and McCarthy pushed back at the Durbin and Graham proposal.
“I’m not sure what the next step will be,” Durbin told reporters. “The President invited us to — at his little get-together in the Cabinet room — to come up with proposals, and we did. It’s a bipartisan proposal which we’ve worked on for four months in the Senate, and I don’t know what happens next.”
Asked what it would take to bring something to the floor, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said any deal would have to hit the four items identified by Trump in an earlier meeting on Jan. 10. Besides a fix for DACA, the compromise should include border security (aka ‘The Wall’), something to curtail “chain migration” or family-based migration, and ending the diversity lottery — and be “something that the President would sign.”
In a joint statement after the disturbing Oval Office meeting, the Gang of Six senators noted their deal hit those four points and pledged to work to seek support from colleagues, without acknowledging the setback.The reaction from the AAPI community strongly condemned Trump’s vulgar comments. “The President’s words were simply racist, repugnant, and reprehensible, and they have no place in our political discourse,” said Vanita Gupta, who served as the Obama Justice Department’s top civil rights official and now heads the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Congress must prove that America’s founding values and principles are more than words by repudiating the President’s disgusting remarks and passing bipartisan legislation now to protect Dreamers and families covered by Temporary Protected Status.”
Donald Trump’s ability to degrade the office of the Presidency never ceases to shock me. Disgraceful. What makes this country strong is the diversity of its people. Nothing can change that, no matter what the President says. https://t.co/N5iXJ8V8mM
— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) January 11, 2018
Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statement condemning President Trump’s racist comments:
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus strongly condemns President Trump’s reprehensible statement about immigrants from African and other countries. It is racist and reveals his thinking that he would like to ‘Make America White Again.’ President Trump would like to take this country backward and end immigration as we know it.
With his statement, it is now clear why President Trump has moved to end the DACA program, decimate legal immigration, and to end the Temporary Protected Status of countries.
CAPAC believes strongly that the most urgent business at hand is to pass a clean DREAM Act. We must protect the lives of the 800,000 young people who fear deportation to a country they do not even know, and who not only come from Mexico, but also South Korea, the Philippines, India and many other countries from around the world. We also believe, however that, such a solution should not be done on the back of our family-based immigration system.
“We are deeply disturbed that the President of the United States made racist and White supremacist comments regarding immigrants from Africa and Haiti. Our nation’s strength is rooted in its global diversity and our nation’s leaders should celebrate – and not demonize – immigrants,” said a statement from Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
“While we condemn the President’s racism, we also call on our Congressional members to not fall for this latest distraction. Congress must focus on passing a clean Dream Act that does not come at the expense of our long-standing family-based immigration system and diversity visa program.”
The President’s comments about other countries neither comport with the dignity of the presidency, nor with the goodness of America and the majority of Americans in their positive views toward immigrants and other countries. In short, the President’s comments are un-American. pic.twitter.com/JsoT3DsvuD
— Raja Krishnamoorthi (@CongressmanRaja) January 11, 2018
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