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The government shutdown has revealed the GOP’s true position on the DREAMers.

Drew Angerer/Getty

The shutdown has entered its third day and the two parties are at an impasse. Republicans say they won’t consider immigration reform until Democrats help them reopen the government. Democrats say they won’t reopen the government until Republicans pledge to hold a vote to protect those 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.

Both sides are blaming each other, but the cause for this logjam is simple. In September, President Trump ended DACA but claimed that he wanted to protect the DREAMers. Most Republicans have publicly maintained that they do not want to see these people deported. But at the same time, they have used the DREAMers as hostages, threatening to abandon them if Democrats don’t agree to a string of tougher immigration measures.

The closer Congress gets to a March deadline to resolve the issue, the more valuable that bargaining chip becomes. If they hammer out an agreement to the DACA issue now, they will lose the leverage to extract more severe concessions from Democrats.

Republicans, in other words, are trying to have it both ways. They don’t want to seem heartless, so they publicly maintain that they are negotiating in good faith to protect the DREAMers. But they also want to keep their legal status in limbo for as long as possible. The Republicans are less interested in the fate of these 800,000 individuals than in using them to get hardline policies on immigration.