Tuesday, November 12, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He lied about DACA.

DACA is the government program that gives certain children, brought illegally to the United States by their parents, the lowest priority for deportation. It also allows people given this designation—many of whom do not remember their native country, or speak its language—the ability to work legally, get driver's licenses, and otherwise lead a relatively normal life.

Today, Trump tweeted this:

It's true that some DACA recipients are "no longer very young," although it's not clear why Trump thinks this matters. Every other part of this is false—in particular the part about "some" being "tough, hardened criminals." This is a callback to the first days of his 2016 campaign, when he said that Mexican immigrants were rapists and drug dealers. 

By definition, DACA recipients cannot have been convicted of a felony, or a "significant misdemeanor" (including charges related to domestic violence, sexual abuse or exploitation, unlawful possession or use of a firearm, drug sales, burglary, or drunk driving). Three minor misdemeanors (like, for example, public intoxication or littering) also completely disqualify an applicant, and even one can result in a DACA recipient's status being revoked.

Trump himself is "no angel," having been credibly accused of felonies ranging from sexual assault to tax fraud, which would likely result in his being discretionarily excluded from DACA participation if the Department of Homeland Security were aware of the accusations. Among the people in his orbit who would also be barred from DACA by virtue of being "tough, hardened criminals" include:

  • Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign manager (convicted of 17 felonies)
  • Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer and "fixer" (convicted of campaign finance violations related to Trump's attempts to pay hush money to his sexual partners, and of making false statements to the U.S. Senate)
  • Rick Gates, Trump's campaign co-chair (convicted on two felony counts of making false statements and conspiracy against the United States)
  • George Papadopoulos, Trump's campaign national security advisor and Russia contact (convicted of one felony count of making false statements)
  • Michael Flynn, Trump's disgraced national security advisor and campaign surrogate (convicted of making false statements during the Russia investigation)

Other Trump-connected individuals whose criminal trials are ongoing or whose convictions haven't yet been finalized—which would be enough to prevent them from renewing DACA status, especially if they were incarcerated during their trial—include:

  • Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, "associates" of Trump's current lawyer Rudy Giuliani who were involved in the Ukraine bribery scandal, currently facing charges related to illegally funneling foreign money to U.S. political campaigns
  • Roger Stone, currently on trial for seven counts of witness tampering, obstruction of justice, and perjury related to his role as a conduit between the Trump campaign and Wikileaks, which Russia was using to illegally help Trump get elected

Trump's position on DACA has varied wildly during the course of his term, to the point that he has occasionally forgotten what it is entirely during negotiations with Congress about it. One political reality he appeared to forget today was that DACA recipients are much, much more popular than he is.

Why should I care about this?

  • It's wrong to accuse people of crimes they have, by definition, not committed.
  • Bigotry is as bigotry does.