LEININGER: Americans aren’t ready for unconditional ‘lebensraum,’ at least not in Spanish

Demonstrators rally in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) outside the Capitol Jan. 21. (AP photo)
Kevin Leininger

Although Democrats have generally benefited from previous government shutdowns, the end of this week’s three-day impasse saw Republicans rising triumphant (at least for now) from the political grave, as even Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was forced to concede.

“People love the dreamers,” the New York Democrat told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, “but don’t want government shut down for it.”

The reason for that became clear Tuesday as dozens of people gathered outside Schumer’s home to protest Democrats’ acquiescence to a bill that funds the federal government through Feb. 8 without addressing the status of about 700,000 so-called Dreamers illegally brought to this country as children. “If he won’t let us dream, we won’t let him sleep,” they chanted in English and Spanish, apparently forgetting that obnoxious demands for “lebensraum” are supposed to be issued in German.

Did the three-day impasse represent the first time a political party’s leadership has put the interests of non-Americans in the country illegally ahead of the needs of their own citizens and constituents? Possibly, but the sorry spectacle may be repeated in just two weeks unless clarification of dreamers’ status is linked to serious and overdue efforts to secure the border and inject some pro-American sanity into the nation’s immigration system.

Although the initial spending bill passed in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, it failed to win the necessary 60 votes in the Senate, where the GOP holds only a slim majority. Indiana’s Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly voted for the unsuccessful first bill and with 80 other senators who ended the resulting shutdown only after Republicans agreed to allow a vote on President Obama’s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program to protect dreamers from deportation if a comprehensive deal is not reached by Feb. 8.

But Republicans won’t, and shouldn’t, grant permanent legal status for dreamers unless Democrats agree to limit or end so-called chain and diversity immigration and secure the border once and for all so future demands for amnesty do not become as common as the New England Patriots’ participation in the Super Bowl. And Schumer, apparently chastened by the howls from his far-left base, has now withdrawn a previous offer to authorize (but not guarantee) funding for President Trump’s proposed wall at the Southern border.

Without such a compromise, a deal is impossible — which in turn makes passage of a stand-alone DACA bill impossible, assuring still more stalemate.

As I have written before, moral and practical concerns make some sort of accommodation for dreamers not only appropriate but necessary. But the dreamers have no inherent right to stay; they should remain only if it is in the nation’s best long-term interest, and that means compassion must be tempered with increased security and enforcement. As the Crime Prevention Research Center reported recently, DACA-aged illegal immigrants in Arizona were at least 142 percent more likely to be convicted of a crime than other residents of the state.

As usual, President Trump complicated things by resorting to alleged comments about limiting immigration from ” —-hole countries.” But surely the desire for legal and merit-based immigration requires no apology. Amnesty for dreamers may indeed be a “critical component of the Democratic Party’s future electoral success,” as the left-leaning Center for American Progress Action Fund recently acknowledged, but most Americans surely expect far more than that in return for their generosity — as even Schumer at last seems to understand.

Mea Culpa

While doing research for my Tuesday column about the city’s new “pay to play” ordinance I misread presumptive Republican mayoral candidate Tim Smith’s 2017 campaign finance report — with predictably wrong results.

The $50,000 contribution I reported did not come from Greater Fort Wayne Inc. CEO Eric Doden but from his parents, Daryle and Brenda Doden. My apologies to the Dodens.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Kevin Leininger at kleininger@news-sentinel.com or call him at 461-8355.