It’s been a while since we could count on the comments of the president of the United States as factual, even if the facts were strategically selected. And now come President Trump’s misleading statements on immigration and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Using his favorite medium to discuss important issues with the American public, the president tweeted Monday that “DACA is dead.” He then said within Twitter’s 280-character limit that it was the Democrats’ fault because they “didn’t care, or act, and now everyone wants to get on the DACA bandwagon.”
Trump suggested it’s too late to strike up the band, however, because it’s time to “build Wall and secure our borders with proper Border legislation.”
This is coming from the same president who in January said, “I hope we’re going to come up with an answer for DACA,” and promised he would sign the “bill of love.” That stance upset conservatives who remembered another promise Trump made, when he was campaigning for president and said he would “immediately terminate” DACA if elected.
Maybe we’re all confused about where Trump stands on DACA because he appears to be confused about what the program actually does. In a tweet on Easter, the president claimed “big flows of people” are entering the United States illegally to take advantage of DACA. But the residency program for people who were brought to the United States illegally as children doesn’t work like that.
The 700,000 “Dreamers” who qualified to participate in the program created by President Barack Obama had to have arrived in the United States before age 16 and have lived continuously in this country since June 15, 2007. They could then apply for two-year renewals. Furthermore, the Trump administration stopped accepting initial DACA applications in October and has not renewed applications that expired.
One thing Trump did get right is throwing some shade at the Democrats for the Dreamers’ plight. They accepted a budget deal that boosted domestic spending without extending DACA, leaving the Dreamers in limbo.
Neither a brief government shutdown in January engineered by the Democrats nor House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s eight-hour filibuster in February led to a DACA deal. The $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill does include billions more for a variety of social programs, including for opioid addiction treatment and election security, but nothing for the Dreamers.
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn), co-chair of the Democratic National Committee, said Sunday that his party isn’t fazed by Trump’s criticism. Ellison responded to Trump, tweeting: “You were never doing a DACA deal. Your actions gave you away: cancelling DACA with no plan, making racist comments about Black/Brown immigrants, ejecting several by bipartisan deals. You didn’t fool anybody.”
The sniping on Twitter isn’t helping the hundreds of thousands of people who have been living and working in this country, paying their taxes, and otherwise being law-abiding neighbors and friends, who must fear deportation until their status is resolved.
Of course, DACA should be extended. But beyond that, Congress needs to update this country’s archaic immigration law to address the millions of others who came to this country illegally but have proved they deserve to stay.