Forget, for a bit, about the probe into possible collusion between his 2016 presidential campaign and Russia. Put aside his conflicts of interest, nepotism, repeated lies, flip-flops, disrespect for women and ethnic groups, plus bombastic pronouncements, including juvenile exchanges with North Korea, which could get millions of Americans killed. Pause on Trump’s floundering, promise to “build a wall” on the U.S. southern border, his waffling on health care, ridiculous “both sides” comment on Charlottesville and Muslim ban.
The 45th president of the United States may have finally made too Caribbean nationals mad by his decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. He’s messing with immigrants again and could drown in his own wasteful rhetoric.
This time, Trump may have painted himself into a political corner with little room for escape. In his frantic haste to bolster his voting base – the same people he boasted would still support him if he shot someone in the streets of New York – Trump ended a program which allowed some 800,000 young, ambitious but undocumented immigrants in the U.S. to stay in the country with permission to work, attend school and even serve in America’s armed forces.
Yes, he actually may trigger the deportation of people willing to die for the U.S., something the so-called “Dealmaker Don” wasn’t too keen on doing when he had the chance.
See, DACA, which benefits thousands from the Caribbean, was another policy of his predecessor Barack Obama – in this case executive order – which Trump simply cannot allow to live, even if he claims compassion for the plight of the “Dreamers”. So he wiggled into a campaign promise and sounded DACA’s possible death knell. Now he’s tangled neck-high in a web of deceit.
The official announcement came on Sept. 5, delivered publicly not by Trump himself, but his anti-illegal immigration Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a sign the president wasn’t all in on the idea himself.
It was greeted by sudden and ferocious blowback. So the president injected a familiar wheel-and-come-again strategy. Trump said he would allow the U.S. Congress six months to vote DACA into law – or not. Yes, that same Republican-dominated Congress which for years had refused to do the same when Obama was president.
As the heat rapidly turned up on Trump, he issued another tweet, stating that if Congress didn’t act he would “re-visit” DACA himself. Of course, Trump could have simply left Obama’s order in place while asking the Congress to sort it out. He can still issue another pro-DACA executive order.
However, there is a famous saying in politics: If you are already in a hole, stop digging. Trump, it seems, prefers to plough deeper.
WHO TO PLEASE
So here we are. Six months – or less - away from the reckoning. See, Trump’s diehard supporters – the notorious base – do not like immigrants much. Undocumented ones make some cringe with hate. The majority of beneficiaries under DACA are brown or black people, especially those from Mexico and the Caribbean. Some of Trump’s supporters are white supremacists, among them those he called “fine”.
“At the end of the day, (Trump’s DACA decision is) based on white supremacy and his base,” argued Jamaican American attorney Khalfani Omari Fullerton, who has represented DACA recipients.
Trump may have thought he was clever by batting the anti-DACA ball over to the “court” of Congress. Yet, many of his so-called Republican colleagues there support DACA and are unlikely to end the program. If, however, the majority Republican Congress fails to decide, the ball will bounce right back over to Trump’s court.
Already, his immigration game is fragile, especially among so-called backers. Trump inflamed some of his base by striking a reported “agreement” with leading congressional Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Shumer to push for DACA to become law. However, pro-Trump news organization Breitbart immediately labeled him “Amnesty Don”. Staunch Trump supporter Ann Coulter, a conservative commentator, said the president was betraying his campaign promises, even suggesting he could be impeached.
With backers and opponents blasting his ever shifting DACA moves, Trump again backtracked, claiming there was no agreement.
All this is happening under the watchful gaze of the public - from all sides of the political spectrum. The hardcore Trump base is eagerly demanding its leader finally smash DACA into oblivion. They want all undocumented immigrants out of the U.S. – now. But several opinion surveys reveal the larger U.S. community is pushing him to preserve it. That includes a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll which shows support for DACA at 78 percent.
Immigration is a massive issue in the U.S. A Monmouth University poll shows 73 percent of Americans consider it a serious or somewhat serious topic. Trump simply cannot dodge its blistering glare.
So his wiggle room is shrinking rapidly. Both sides have a political shovel at the ready. At least one will get the chance to help Trump bury himself deep in his own DACA doo.
Your play, Mr. President.