Republicans who dutifully carry out the wishes of President Trump, adviser Stephen Miller and the rest of the anti-immigrant crowd managed to dash hopes for a bipartisan agreement to spare hundreds of thousands of “dreamers” from deportation. The anti-immigration alternative, which would have slashed legal immigration (betraying their real agenda) and eliminated the visa lottery system (thereby reducing the number of brown and black people from — to use Trump’s words — “shithole countries“), got 39 votes, a reflection of just how extreme the Trump-Miller-Cotton agenda is.

The shabby showing for their “solution” to the elimination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program leaves Republicans with no political cover to explain their ongoing opposition to a DACA plan that could enjoy even majority support, let alone 60 votes in the Senate. They cannot blame Democrats — although they tried in an unhinged statement from the White House — for the failure of a bill that their own members won’t support.

Post opinions writers Molly Roberts, Karen Tumulty, Christine Emba and E.J. Dionne discuss the latest on the immigration debate. (The Washington Post)

Now the ball is in their court. Ready for mass deportations? The scenes of family separation? Oh. Well, wait. Now, only now, do they realize that this is a horrid predicament, the inevitable result of their anti-immigrant posturing. The Hill reports:

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (S.D.), Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) floated a measure that would extend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program indefinitely in exchange for $25 billion in border security funding.
It would require DACA recipients to reapply to the program every two years and cap expenditures for border security infrastructure at $5 billion year.

In other words, they will now take less (no wall) than they could have obtained under the Democratic plan so long as they keep DACA participants in suspense. Then, in what is truly the definition of “chutzpah,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) cries crocodile tears for the dreamers. (“Part of the problem that people in the DACA program explain is when they only have one year, two years, three years of certainty, it’s hard for them to make big life decisions: to change a job, to move, to sign a mortgage,” he proclaimed.) If only he actually asked real dreamers what they preferred and understood that repeal of DACA with no alternative, a move he cheered, is precisely what makes it impossible for dreamers to plan their lives.

At this point, Democrats would be wise to do nothing. Let Republicans wrestle for a bit with a problem entirely of their own making. If they don’t have the nerve to see mass deportations, then perhaps Republicans would consider the bipartisan plan that got 54 votes. But if they do come up with a solution that can get virtually all of their members on board for — shall we call it “rolling amnesty”? — then some Democrats surely can be found. In fact, here’s an idea: Put the Thune-Portman-Moran bill on the floor; put the bipartisan bill back on the floor. Let’s see which gets more.

The White House, of course, could blink, sparing its Republican cohorts the humiliation and political firestorm ensuing from their refusal to embrace a bipartisan solution. Trump repealed the plan but provided for an extension on the theory that Congress could act. If that is constitutionally permissible, then why not another extension — and one after that? Trump’s bastardized legal theory (the executive order is invalid, except for six months) left him open to the question: If he really loves the dreamers, why not extend the program until Congress can get its act together?