I think it’s no accident that Trump and MAGA are trying to sink this deal even as Trump and Miller are loudly advertising plans for an extraordinarily cruel and draconian second-term crackdown. This includes the mass removals of millions of undocumented immigrants settled here, commencing on Day One; and dramatically scaled-up “camps” to detain enormous numbers of asylum-seekers, who would be subject to appalling new limits that would go further than the GOP bill does. Trump is openly flaunting this agenda’s white nationalist aspirations.
The spectacle of border disorder along with Congress doing nothing in response is the essential combination that Trump, Miller, and MAGA Republicans need. Images of serious destabilization being met with parliamentary sclerosis might create the opening for them to persuade swing voters—especially those who aren’t ideologically opposed to immigration—to accept maximal ethnonationalist savagery, packaged as “border security,” as the only “solution” that will “work.”
At least that’s the dream that fires up the fevered MAGA imagination. It’s what Trump really means by saying, “I’d rather have no bill than a bad bill.” If a bipartisan deal passes and it persuades swing voters that the border is being stabilized without excessive anti-immigrant cruelty, that opportunity could vanish. This is the darker reason MAGA is trying to tank the deal—and Lankford laid it bare for all to see.