Photo credit: Wonderlane via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Here’s How to End the Trump-Democrat Border Wall Standoff


Tonight, President Trump will deliver an address from the Oval Office on immigration and the ongoing government shutdown. Trump’s speech will be followed by remarks from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Judging from the format alone, it seems unlikely that either side is prepared to make much in the way of concessions.

But why?

From my perspective, breaking the immigration impasse seems like commonsense. Regardless of whether Washington is suffering from a lack thereof, or both sides only wish to deprive the other team of even a partial victory, based on the actions of negotiators on both sides, reaching an agreement shouldn’t be hard. In fact, it should be easy.

Here’s why. Let’s start with the Democrats.

In 2006, Chuck Schumer voted to build the wall. Period. No matter what he tells the American people tonight, he totally did that. Guess what? Barack Obama did too. So did Hillary Clinton. PolitiFact may rate this statement as “Half True”, but that’s only because PolitiFact isn’t very beholden to facts. (By the way, PolitiFact rated it as “half true” because the 2006 wall vote didn’t cover the entire border… but President Trump has made clear that his wall wouldn’t have to cover the whole border either.)

That’s not to say building the wall is a great idea — I personally remain agnostic towards it — but let’s be honest about how the table is set. President Trump wants additional fencing on parts of the border to keep his campaign promise, and Chuck Schumer is obstructing out of politics, not principle.

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But that said, politics is give-and-take. As we get closer to the 2020 election, can one blame Schumer for not wanting to demoralize his base by giving Trump a victory on a signature campaign promise? To end the standoff, Schumer needs to put points on the board for his team, too. That’s why Schumer should demand a renewal of deportation protections for the DACA dreamers, as well as a significant expansion to the guest worker problem.

Expanding the guest worker program would be a huge boon for the U.S. — which is especially in need of more workers due to the strength of Trump’s economy — and it would incentivize legal immigration by reducing arbitrary government quotas and barriers that ban work and incentivize people to come in illegally. Such an expansion of the guest worker program would not contradict President Trump’s campaign platform, since he previously promised a “big beautiful door” in the wall and said just four days ago:

I get calls from the great tech companies, and they’re saying we don’t allow people at the top of their class, at the best schools in the country, we don’t allow them to stay in our country. So they end up going back to China and Japan and so many other countries all over the world, and we don’t keep them. They get educated at our finest schools, and then we don’t allow them, through a various set of circumstances, to have any guarantees of staying.  So we lose out on great minds. We can’t do that.

We have companies that, if we don’t change that — and we’re working on that, and we discussed that with the Democrats, and I think they agree. We’re working on that. But we don’t want to lose our great companies because we have a ridiculous policy that we won’t accept smart people. So, call it politically correct or not, but we have to let these great, brilliant companies have the smartest people in the world.

So what is my hope for tonight’s immigration speech? My hope is that President Trump will offer to trade an increase in border security for the protection of DACA Dreamers as well as a serious overhaul of our outdated guest worker program.

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And if Democrats refuse? Well, they may find it a bit harder to claim they care about the Dreamers while holding their lives hostage in order to block a little extra fencing — fencing they previously supported.

Photo credit: Wonderlane via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Jonathan Decker

Jonathan Decker is the Chief Economic Correspondent for

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