Trump To DACA Kids: You're On Your Own

[ Posted Monday, April 2nd, 2018 – 17:11 UTC ]

President Donald Trump signaled this weekend that the DACA kids (formerly known as DREAMers) will essentially be on their own, because the effort to pass legislation to address their dire situation is now dead. Of course, that's where things stand today -- by tomorrow, or next week, Trump could take a radically different stance which will contradict his hard tone expressed over Easter weekend. After all, he's certainly done so before.

Throughout it all, Trump's one consistency is a laughable attempt to place the blame for the whole mess on Democrats. This is ridiculous, since Trump himself singlehandedly caused this crisis, and Trump himself has consistently played politics with the issue rather than reaching a concrete deal to move forward. Anyone with two eyes can see this, but Trump continues to insist otherwise in a futile attempt to score political points.

Trump's initial announcement that he would be ending DACA protections within six months was followed by a dinner in which the Democratic leadership in Congress (or, as Trump called them at the time, "Chuck and Nancy") thought they had struck a deal to pass a clean DACA fix bill. Ever since Trump made his initial announcement, he had been sounding awfully compassionate towards the DACA kids, insisting that a bill had to have "heart" to pass. So it wasn't that surprising that he cut a deal with Chuck and Nancy to achieve this.

Trump immediately reneged on this deal, and indeed announced that a deal had never even been agreed to. Chuck and Nancy politely disagreed.

Democrats were under pressure from their base to get a deal before the end of 2017. They failed to do so, as Trump remained aloof. When Congress returned in January, Democrats were ready to force the issue. During the government shutdown standoff which resulted, Chuck Schumer made an enormous compromise and offered Trump full funding for his border wall folly (you know, the wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for, not American taxpayers). Trump couldn't take "yes" for an answer and turned the deal down, so the government briefly shut down. Democrats walked back from the edge and shelved the issue, in order to get the government back open again.

Trump then held an extraordinary televised session with congressional leadership from both sides of the aisle, where he appeared to agree with most of the Democratic proposals and argued against what the Republicans were pushing. Days later, after hearing what Fox News had to say about it, Trump completely reversed himself and instead took an extremely hard line, demanding not just full border wall funding but also a serious curtailment of legal immigration. Democrats refused, for obvious reasons. Trump took a "take it or leave it" approach, and Democrats chose "leave it" rather than overhauling the entire legal immigration system on the fly.

This, incidentally, is when the issue really died. It took Trump a few months to realize it, that's all this weekend's tweets really signify. Because there has been no offer on the table since then, and Trump himself changes his mind from day to day on whether he really wants to help the DACA kids or just boot them out of the country (to throw some red meat to his base voters). It's not that Democrats can't figure out what Trump wants, in other words, it is that Trump can't seem to figure out what Trump wants.

His Easter tweets showed, once again, how ignorant Trump remains about the basic facts of DACA. He goes by his gut -- and what his gut thinks about whatever Fox News is saying -- while ignoring the reality of the situation. DACA is not available to anyone who hasn't been in America since 2007 -- more than ten years, in other words -- but Trump seems to think it applies to anyone who comes in today or tomorrow. In the seven months since he made his initial announcement, Trump has not once bothered to learn what the program does and does not do, or even the basics about which immigrants are covered.

These two conditions -- Trump changing his mind on a daily basis, and Trump not even being conversant with the basic facts of the program -- have made it completely impossible for anyone to deal with the White House. Even his own Republicans have complained about Trump's shifting stances, at times.

Trump began by claiming he wanted A (to put it in shorthand). Democrats agreed to a deal to achieve A. Then Trump said he didn't want A, and instead wanted B. Democrats reluctantly agreed to B, and even threw in W (border wall funding). Trump then backed away from this, insisting that the deal also had to include X, Y, and Z. Democrats threw up their hands and walked away. A couple months later, Trump has now realized that the entire thing is dead in the water, so he loudly pronounces the deal will not happen. The only surprise is how long it took him to figure it out, really.

In the meantime, all the politicians involved have gotten a break from federal judges who have temporarily put a stay on Trump's order to halt the program. So the DACA kids are still able to reapply to continue their legal status, but that could go away at any time if the courts rule on the pending cases. What it has done, however, is remove the hard calendar deadline (which has already passed, at the beginning of March), which took a lot of the political pressure off (for the time being).

Latino voters -- as well as other voters who also care about the issue -- know full well who is on their side and who is fighting against them. It's pretty obvious, after all. One party is demanding the DACA program be made permanent, and one party has hated it with a white-hot passion ever since it began. One party is reluctantly giving in to demands from the other side to add anti-immigrant extras to any proposed deal, and the other side can't even take "yes" for an answer -- they keep upping the stakes. So it's pretty easy to see which side is playing politics with the issue and which side genuinely wants to achieve a deal. And that's even before you single out Trump's inconsistencies -- because Democrats have been fighting for DACA all along, and Republicans have been fighting against it, even before Trump became president.

This could cost Republicans at the ballot box, very soon. In general, Latinos vote at a much lower rate than the population at large. They are underrepresented, in other words. Another way to put it is there is a lot of untapped political power that, if it ever wakes up, is going to surprise a lot of people who expected to be re-elected.

The DACA kids also get a lot of sympathy from suburban voters (especially women) who value fairness and compassion in general. Singling the DREAMers out from the larger undocumented immigrant population put the spotlight on the most compelling stories of becoming an American around. These stories resonate with voters who believe in the ideal of America as a nation of immigrants. And there are a lot of them.

Trump's tweets this weekend did serve to personalize the entire debate more. By displaying his ignorance of the rules of the program, Trump showed fully how disinterested he is in addressing the problem in any meaningful way (other than using it as a political football). By personally dismissing the DACA kids and singling them out, Trump has put a face on who is responsible for their distress at not knowing whether they have a future here or not. Obviously, the only way any of this is going to change is if there is a Democratic majority in either (or both) the House and the Senate. The voters can't change the president until 2020, but they will be able to change Congress in seven months' time. That's really the only thing Trump highlighted by his tweets, because everyone else in Washington (and beyond) already knew that the DACA deal was dead. All Trump really did with his snarky tweets was to dance around a little bit on the DACA deal's grave.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


8 Comments on “Trump To DACA Kids: You're On Your Own”

  1. [1] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    most of donald's harmful actions can be attributed to ignorance or incompetence... but this is one of his few actions that i would characterize as truly evil - specifically picking on a class of people who by definition are innocent of the conduct for which they're being punished, and forcing the government to break the promise of fair treatment it had made them.

  2. [2] 
    Paula wrote:

    I literally get tired of expressing how much I despise the orange pus-bucket and all his works and all his enablers and all his followers. Sometimes the intensity lessens, but it's because of exhaustion and because I reach a point where I, at least for a time, can't hate any harder. It's like I level off - not that the hate decreases in volume, just that my muscles are building enough strength to support the weight. Then I rest and discover, why yes, I CAN hate the guy and his gang even more!

    Some "conservatives" complain that Blotus-opposers now react negatively to everything and anything the criminal-incompetent does, says, tweets. We're not balanced in our responses they say. My reply: "you broke it, you own it. There is such a thing as a point of no return, of too little too late."

    Blotus will continue to hover in his 30-40 range, I think. He may well go lower but I don't think he'll ever go much more than a few points higher, and those will be blips that won't last. Because the detestation and knee-jerk hostility is now baked-in -- cemented-in. And may he drag every republican still in office down with him.

  3. [3] 
    neilm wrote:


    I'm reading Steven Pinker's new book "Enlightenment Now", and regarding comment #2, in the larger perspective Trump and his acolytes are losing. Their petty venom designed to anger you are really their last gasp screams.

    Progress, particularly social progress, is moving faster and faster - 10 years ago today the soon to be Democratic President deemed the brave leader was still equivocating on gay marriage. It took Joe Biden to blurt out an oopsie before Obama would find his balls on the issue.

    Gay Marriage! Obama! 2012!

    Six years ago Obama "came out", now gay marriage is the law and the majority of America accepts it.

    The country is getting better. Trump is a road bump that progress will roll over, probably still gathering speed.

  4. [4] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Seems like more of the same to me.

    This is typical of the campaign strategy from both the Democrats and Republicans. Take a dead issue and try to paint the "other side" as the reason that it didn't get done.

    Anyone with two eyes can see this, but both Democrats and Republicans continue to insist otherwise in a futile attempt to score political points.

    Voters can change Congress in seven months, but changing control of Congress from the Big Money Republicans to the Big Money Democrats is not changing Congress because that is what Congress has been for the last thirty years- changing control back and forth between the two divisions of the Big Money Party.

    Anyone with two eyes can see this, but both Democrats and Republicans continue to insist otherwise in a futile attempt to score political points.

    If Congress is going to be changed in 2018 it will require a change in the way citizens vote. It will require a change in the way the media informs citizens which needs to be more about alternatives than the constant regurgitating of the distraction and bullshit issues and the pretending that the show that both sides put on for their bases and to discourage those that are not fooled by the show from participating.

    Anyone with two eyes can see this, but both Democrats and Republicans continue to insist otherwise in a futile attempt to score political points.

    It's time, CW, to acknowledge what your eyes can see that the Emperor has no clothes and be part of the solution instead of being part of the problem.

  5. [5] 
    Paula wrote:

    [3]neilm: Thanks for the positive message! I think you're, ultimately, correct -- hope so, anyway. Getting through the sludge until we climb out of the swamp and start moving toward being a democracy again -- that's the challenge for now. But I agree with your premise that progress is happening and building and can't really be halted. It's just a matter of the collateral damage during the interim.

  6. [6] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Trump is responding to hearing that his base has gotten upset that he is going soft on his promises regarding illegal immigrants. He’s now calling for our military to patrol the border to Mexico.

    Fox & Friends, where Trump gets his morning briefings from apparently, has been focused on the large caravan of people from Central America making their way towards the US, hoping to seek asylum here. Thus, Trump whips himself into a tizzy terrified that “THEY” ARE COMING!!! Arrests for illegal entry into this country at the southern border haven’t been this low since 1971!!! (the year I was born)

    Trump’s approval ratings are up on Rasmussen’s poll, which is the only one that matters to our President. Trump’s reality TV brain is only interested in his ratings. That means he is only interested in the short game. Perfect for someone with such an incredibly short attention span.

  7. [7] 
    Kick wrote:


    orange pus-bucket

    *LOL* *spew alert*

  8. [8] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Just read an article concerning Sinclair Broadcasting forcing they local news people to record ads concerning “fake news”... many against their will. I think the news people who do not like being forced to say conservative propaganda messages should claim they do not have to because doing so would violate their deeply held religious beliefs. I would think that Sinclair would have to allow for that given their position on the matter.

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