Wednesday, June 20, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He said he reversed the policy change that wasn't a policy change, but he didn't.

In recent days, Trump and his staffers have taken almost every position imaginable on his recent policy change that forces the seizure of children from migrants and asylum-seekers. But the one Trump himself most often returned to was that there was no such policy, and that only a law could change the situation. 

(Often, it's unclear whether Trump is lying or confused. But given that the policy was not just announced but publicly celebrated barely two months ago, Trump's insistence that it hadn't happened is an audacious lie even by his standards.)

Today, Trump signed an executive order that acknowledged and reversed the policy change he had said didn't exist--but lied about the effect it would have. 

In both the statement announcing the order, and at the campaign rally he immediately traveled to, Trump claimed that his order would allow families to remain together. This is true, but they would be together in immigration jails--and the government is prohibited by a 1997 legal settlement from detaining children for more than 20 days. (Legal experts are not optimistic about Trump's chances of overturning that settlement.)

In other words, Trump has kicked the can down the road 20 days, at which point he will have three choices: resume the practice of forcibly taking children from their parents, take the politically humiliating step of backing away from his zero-tolerance policy, or openly defy a federal court order. 

The Trump administration has made no plans to reunite parents with children already seized.

Why does this matter?

  • Stalling does not make problems go away.
  • Policy should be built on what is best for the United States, not what is politically helpful for the president.