Perhaps the most elementary flaw in any negotiation strategy is wanting to reach a deal so bad that you won’t walk away from the table. A sure sign that this happening is when your negotiating partner (or you) starts modifying their initial offer without waiting for a counter-offer. This is exactly what Trump did yesterday:
Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can't, I will revisit this issue!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2017
It is foolishness to read too much into Trump’s tweets but he seems to be saying that if Congress doesn’t act that he will take some kind of action–either a DACA-lite or an extension of work permits. It is going to be hard enough to get Congress to act under the best of circumstances. Giving them a bolt hole by signaling that if they don’t act that things will keep perking along as they are is a terrible negotiating strategy.
What makes this sudden impulse to “go wobbly” worse is that the White House released a statement yesterday that further muddied the swamp water of immigration. Marco Rubio issued a challenge to Trump to tell Congress what bill he would sign. Rather than talking about how to fix the DREAMer problem, the White House added confusion:
Congress now has the opportunity to advance responsible immigration reform that puts American jobs and American security first. We are facing the symptom of a larger problem, illegal immigration, along with the many other chronic immigration problems Washington has left unsolved. We must reform our green card system, which now favors low-skilled immigration and puts immense strain on U.S. taxpayers. We must base future immigration on merit – we want those coming into the country to be able to support themselves financially, to contribute to our economy, and to love our country and the values it stands for. Under a merit-based system, citizens will enjoy higher employment, rising wages, and a stronger middle class. Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue have introduced the RAISE Act, which would establish this merit-based system and produce lasting gains for the American People.
The last thing we need right now is another ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ fiasco.