Originally published by The Washington Post

President Trump’s first foray into dealmaking with Democrats – a short-term extension of the debt ceiling – was shocking. But it was also relatively easy. It was a low-impact throwing of his own party under the bus, because debt ceiling increases are basically always approved.

Cutting a deal on immigration and DACA will be significantly more difficult. And it has already turned into a Trumpian mess.

First came the White House’s conflicting signals on whether an agreement had been reached. Trump tweeted early Thursday that there was no deal but soon clarified that a deal was fairly close.

Color me skeptical. On two specific counts – the border wall and a pathway to citizenship – the White House, Trump and Democrats are providing a multitude of mixed signals. There may have been an agreement negotiated Wednesday night, but it’s always subject to the ever-shifting negotiations in Trump’s own head.

First, the border wall. In announcing the agreement Wednesday night, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said its outline included renewing DACA – the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which exempts illegal immigrants brought into the country as children from deportation – and balancing it with increased border security. But they emphasized that the border security part would be excluding the wall.

Not so, said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders early Thursday. While DACA and border security were both discussed,” she said, “excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to. Okay.

Two hours later, though, Trump himself contradicted that. The wall will come later, he said.

And then, in what could be the coup de grace for the entire thing, he just said there had to be an understanding that the wall would be funded in the near future. We have to be sure the wall isn’t obstructed, because without the wall, I wouldn’t do anything, Trump said. It doesn’t have to be here, but they can’t obstruct the wall if it’s in a budget or anything else.

He added: If there’s not a wall, we’re doing nothing.

If you can decode that, let me know. But it sounds as if Trump is saying that he wants Democrats, as part of this agreement, to promise not to block future wall funding. That’s a very tall order, given that the wall is a red line for them.

And then there’s the pathway to citizenship. The White House seemed to signal midmorning that it was open to such arrangements – while clarifying that it wasn’t for amnesty. Here’s what spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said:


Let’s set aside for the moment that huge swaths of Trump’s base believe a path to citizenship is amnesty (which is hugely problematic from the White House’s standpoint). When he landed in Florida, shortly after Walters’s comments, Trump again totally contradicted his own press aide.

We’re not looking at citizenship, he said. We’re not looking at amnesty. We’re looking at allowing people to stay here.

In addition to contradicting Walters, this contradicts itself. Allowing people to stay here is a form of amnesty, even if it’s not citizenship.

Then, shortly after that, Pelosi said at her news conference that the deal on DACA did include a path to citizenship – at least for the dreamers.

I do believe there is an understanding that down the road there is an eventual path to citizenship, she said.

Read more: www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/09/14/trumps-daca-deal-with-democrats-is-already-a-hot-mess/?hpid=hp_hp-cards_hp-card-politics%3Ahomepage%2Fcard&utm_term=.32ed58c822b0

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