Various media outlets have commented on President Trump's barrage of Easter weekend tweets, signaling a renewed interest in hardening his immigration stance after repeatedly succumbing to the temptation to show his soft, fuzzy side where illegal immigration is concerned. As a result of which, a number of supporters, chief among them Ann Coulter, vented their exasperation and openly wondered if the man who now occupies the Oval Office is the same one who campaigned so vigorously on the need to enforce the nation's immigration laws both at the border and in the interior.
The rift became most obvious when the president signed the comprehensive 2018 budget act into law — halfway through the fiscal year. In exchange for getting his way (mostly) on military spending, the president also agreed to massive domestic spending increases and a variety of immigration-related provisions that pro-enforcement advocates saw as downright betrayal. To name just a few: a doubling of the available numbers for unskilled nonimmigrant workers, despite the harm this likely does to citizens and eligible workers already at the bottom of the economic ladder; a proviso preventing Immigration and Customs Enforcement from funding detention beds even at the current level, let alone increasing them to the desired level; and a paltry "down payment" for the border wall that the president promised Mexico would pay for, with no assurance whatever that there would be other monies forthcoming.
But back to those tweets. Among them, the president expressed his outrage that a caravan of Central Americans who entered Mexico illegally, but who have not been accosted in any way by Mexican border or security authorities, is en route to our border where they allegedly will present themselves to seek asylum. In fact, several news stories talk about the help and assistance, formal and informal, that they have received all along the way. They need to be rejected out of hand — clearly they had a "first safe haven" opportunity in Mexico, as is self-evident from the ongoing welcome they received. Mexico is, after all, a signatory to the international protocols on refuge and asylum, and if these caravan participants chose not to avail themselves of it, they have no basis on which to expect us to act in loco respublica, so to speak, on behalf of the Mexican government.
Needless to say, more than a few mainstream media outlets chose to disparage the president's frustration (although to some large extent, he has only himself to blame for the present state of affairs since he abandoned both his rhetoric and his leverage when he signed the budget deal).
For example, in an analysis of Trump's tweets, CNN had this to say:
These big flows of people are all trying to take advantage of DACA. They want in on the act!" he wrote on Sunday, making plain his tenuous grasp on the details of the DACA program, which doesn't apply to new immigrants. [Emphasis added.]
I beg to differ. It's CNN that shows its tenuous grasp of detail, since more than one of the amnesty proposals floated from either the left, or the open-borders segment of the Republican party (as represented by Sen. Jeff Flake and others) went way beyond the parameters of DACA recipients, and even beyond the expanded group of "Dreamers", to include tens of thousands of aliens whose temporary protected status (TPS) or deferred enforced departure programs (DED) are expiring.
One amnesty proposal very specifically even went further and would have essentially amnestied aliens prospectively, all the way through a date months in the future — June — which in essence means that groups such as the "caravaners" would indeed have been included had it passed Congress.
Perhaps he didn't understand initially, but at this point, surely the president's smart enough to know that any bundled legislative effort involving an amnesty is too big an opportunity for open borders types not to try to add as many loopholes as possible.
But giving Trump that much credit would of course be anathema to CNN, even though it makes the analysis look shallow as a consequence — at least, to anyone who knows anything at all about immigration and the legislative process.
There may be some lingering doubt, though, as to whether the president yet recognizes the cause-and-effect at work here. Is he aware that he is in no small measure personally responsible for having made Democratic and Republican immigration expansionists believe that he would give them amnesty at any price? After all, even when announcing the various ends to the much-abused or extra-statutory programs of DACA, TPS, and DED, it is notable that the termination dates are always years in the future ("This is the last extension").
Unfortunately, this has given the president the belief that he has room to wobble back and forth from day to day to achieve his end goal — for instance, saying at one point that if Congress didn't get to the finish line on DACA, he would reconsider ending it. But all that's done is embolden the die-hard immigration expansionist hardliners into believing they can achieve more amnesty without being burdened by immigration controls as a trade-off.
I'd like to put a bug in the president's ear: Notwithstanding the old commercial to the contrary, Weebles wobble, but they do sometimes fall down. The midterm elections aren't that far away, and the president himself has done a great deal to disillusion many key supporters. There are really only two pressing questions that time will soon enough answer:
- Will his base turn out in the numbers needed to sustain majorities in both chambers of Congress?
- And if they do, what difference will it make unless he can convince the Senate majority leader to jettison the current rules requiring 60 votes (because of the arcane practices of filibuster and cloture) before anything can really get through the upper chamber?
Those rules are slowly strangling his agenda, day by day, bit by bit. And if that is the end result, then no matter what happens at the midterms, the 2020 presidential election is almost sure to slip through conservative fingers.