Saturday, January 19, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He offered a "compromise."

On the 29th day of the government shutdown that has 800,000 federal workers going unpaid and consequences mounting, Trump held another televised address to make the case for his border wall. The centerpiece of it was an offer to temporarily protect refugees already lawfully residing in the United States, and people brought into the country as children. In other words, an extension of both the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs.

In today's attempt, Trump said that to renew these programs would be "straightforward, fair, reasonable, and common sense."

Trump canceled DACA in September of 2017, saying at the time that it "violat[ed] the core tenets that sustain our Republic," that it was "unlawful and unconstitutional," and that it had fomented an invasion of gang members and a "humanitarian crisis."

It was a discussion of the TPS designation for Haitians living in the U.S. after fleeing a series of natural disasters that led to Trump's famous "shithole countries" remark.

To be fair to Trump, his sudden willingness to see these programs as "reasonable" and legally valid is less of a change than it may seem. He has often been confused about his own stance on DACA, endorsing it even after he'd rescinded it

Instead, his immigration position at any given moment has been more about placating a small part of his voting base. His suddenly renewed enthusiasm for the border wall—for which he didn't even request funds in his budget proposal—is generally attributed to his fear of being criticized from the right by extremists like Ann Coulter.

Coulter, for her part, was no more impressed than Democrats with Trump's offer.

Why does this matter?

  • Presidents who make their policy based on what they actually think is right and best for the country don't offer to bargain it away.