Tomorrow's newspaper column, today:
Steve Bannon and all of Breitbartdom were deliriously joyful, Jeff Sessions smirked his way through the announcement, their uncontained happiness telling. Ending DACA is, after all, about nothing so much as nativist white supremacy. Appealing directly to the worst among us, Trump’s initial decision was gratuitous cruelty.
“Compassion,” said Sessions, the word inexplicably not burning through his nasal conchae and into his brain. And “law.” Well, the latter argument is not without weight: DACA was a controversial executive order by the Muslim Kenyan terrorist, a result of Congress even less able to legislate than it is now.
Fake news notwithstanding, no court has ruled Obama’s order unconstitutional. Now, though, with Neil Gorsuch having taken his seat thanks to unprecedented obstruction by Mitch McConnell, the Supreme Court is stacked against it. Congressional inaction or an appearance before the Court would mean the end of DACA. Too bad. It’s been humane and mutually beneficial; which, considering its origin, is unsurprising. Note that CEOs of major companies, and the Chamber of Commerce are among those calling for continuing the program.
As usual, right-wing media are disgorging deliberate disinformation about DACA recipients: they’re on welfare, they get food stamps, free college. Because it’s lies that created and animate Trumpism, truth won’t matter. But this is about children, innocently but unlawfully brought here years ago, who’ve honorably made our country a home. These are eight-hundred-thousand honest young adults, contributing no less to society than wave after wave of immigrants have throughout our history.
On arrival, their average age was six. They’ve been here, typically, twenty years, during which time they’ve become American in all but citizenship. To qualify for DACA, they’ve passed and maintained legal scrutiny; they’re paying five-hundred dollars every two years to continue their inclusion; none have committed crimes; nearly all are employed, paying taxes. They include nurses, teachers, med students, engineers, tech specialists, soldiers. Debunked repeatedly is the claim that Dreamers take jobs from American citizens. There is, in other words, no downside to DACA. Having arrived as children, they’ve come to personify the American dream, as opposed to the deplorables to whose ugly demands Trump is acceding.
Had Republicans in Congress shown legislative ability on much of anything, especially issues that require empathy, intelligence and forward thinking, Trump’s no-look pass to them could be seen as something other than cynical politics. “Above all else, we must remember that young Americans have dreams too,” stated Trump, vaporizing prior phony justifications, and implying benevolence is a zero-sum proposition.
It’s only those aggrieved (in their own minds) nativists and supremacists who like the idea of punishing descendants for the crimes of their parents, but those are the people on whom Trump has rested his presidency. Muslim bans, Charlottesville, LGBT people, Sheriff Arpaio, and (maybe, maybe not) DACA: there’s no mistaking, to date, at whose approval his policies have been aimed. A third of Trump voters, according to polls, would deport Dreamers.
And yet, as he reads the writing on the wall, senses he might be making an early exit through the presidential grift-shop, maybe Trump is listening to the better angels in Congress and the voices of the vast majority of Americans who disapprove of and disagree with him. Even if it’s because he fears an end to the cash cow his presidency has become for his businesses and family, has he reneged, yet again, on a major promise? As happened with the debt ceiling, Democratic leaders may have convinced him to reconsider this senseless deportation.
But wait: after showing what looked like an uncharacteristic sense of decency, Trump is now demanding a cost-free act of humanity be tied to his expensive, pandering, and unnecessary border wall. So who knows? Does he care about Dreamers as fellow humans, or is their future only a bargaining chip? With Trump, whose only constant is self-enrichment, no one, not even supporters, can count on anything.
Nativist Trumpites are already up in arms at his possible about-face. As we welcome their overdue recognition that Trump hasn’t the ability to produce coherent policy or keep his facts straight from one moment to the next, let them explain how Obama’s order has hurt them.
Meanwhile: if this column is even more discohesive than usual, hey, the man has ping-ponged three times since I began it![Image source]