Quite beyond being morally repugnant and an offense to human decency, the Trump White House’s announcement Tuesday that it’s rescinding the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” or DACA, is the ultimate exercise in political cynicism.
By punting the fate of 800,000 young people who entered the country illegally as children into the hands of a Republican-controlled Congress that can’t even reach agreement on the things it agrees upon, President Donald Trump is using the so-called “Dreamers” as human shields in his ongoing push for a border wall with Mexico.
During a briefing with reporters, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump is looking for “overall immigration reform that is responsible and lawful.”
That includes the wall that remains the White Whale of Trump’s presidency.
“I don’t think the president has been shy about the fact that he wants a wall,” Huckabee Sanders said, “and thinks it is an important part of a responsible immigration package.”
Trump had to have known the impossibility of the challenge he posed to Congress when he trotted out Attorney General Jeff Sessions to make the announcement that most of official Washington had known was coming for days.
Sessions, who was one of the Senate’s most avid immigration hawks, let loose with a barrage of factually dubious claims and downright libels, as he announced that Congress had six months to come up with a legal alternative to the Obama-era program.
That Trump hid behind Sessions, only hours after announcing that he has “a love for these people [the Dreamers],” was a cowardly abdication of leadership that was compounded by his decision to leave it to Congress to come up with a legislative fix to the mess his own White House had made.
Keep in mind, this is a president who campaigned on the claim that “he alone” could fix what ails the country.
But in every major legislative test, from the Obamacare repeal to tax reform, Trump has been content to skate along the surface of the issues, leaving the intellectual heavy lifting to the legislative branch.
The buck does not stop with Trump, it merely flies by him.
So it’s now up to Republican members of Congress, including U.S. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who each Tweeted their indignation with Trump, to move beyond mere rhetoric and pass legislation in the coming months that will protect the Dreamers — who are from all over the world, and who, in the vast majority of cases, have known no other home than the United States.
Rubio turned to a Bible verse to make his argument against the White House’s action:
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,” Rubio wrote, quoting from the Gospel of Saint Matthew.
While acknowledging that the federal government has a responsibility to guarantee border security, McCain also noted that the U.S. has to do it in a way that “upholds all that is decent and exceptional about our nation.”
And most voters agree with McCain — and on the need for a comprehensive immigration reform package that has dodged a solution for at least seven years.
Nearly three-quarters of respondents (72 percent) to a Pew poll last year said it was either “very” or “somewhat” important to allow illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. as children to remain in the United States.
Conversely, nearly six in 10 respondents (59 percent) said Trump’s much vaunted border wall was not a priority for them.
To borrow from McCain, Trump’s push for the wall is neither decent nor exceptional.
Rather it’s a direct appeal to his ever-dwindling base as he moves into the ninth month of an administration that has done everything except make America great again.
Trump’s claim that the DACA program is unconstitutional isn’t even supported by his own actions. If it’s unconstitutional, the White House should have rescinded it immediately.
That it didn’t speaks volumes not only about its true motives, but about the moral cowardice behind its action.
We’ve been told more than once not to judge Trump by what he says, but by what he does.
There is no clearer evidence than now of his lack of fitness to lead.
An award-winning political journalist, Micek is the Opinion Editor and Political Columnist for PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Readers may follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.