Government shutdown? Forget the blame game. We saw the process unfold before our eyes. It was one built on the word of Donald Trump, but then dashed. Maybe because as a real builder might say, there was no foundation in truth to provide structural integrity – for anything.
And that’s why things collapsed and turned the young student dreamers and other recipients of DACA into Trump’s latest political football.
You’ll recall the recent meeting when Trump brought a bipartisan group of Congressional lawmakers into the Oval Office.
“You folks are going to have to come up with a solution. And if you do, I’m going to sign that solution,” Trump said.
Trump was practically gushing while the media cameras were allowed to roll overtime. Why not? To counteract that tell-all book by Michael Wolff, “Fire and Fury,” Trump seemed to decide it was time to make us all veritable flies on the wall so we can see for ourselves.
“I feel having the Democrats in with us is absolutely vital, as it should be a bipartisan bill, it should be a bill of love, truly it has to be a bill of love,” Trump said.
Yes, this is the same Mr. Travel Ban, Mr. No Kneeling During the National Anthem, uttering the word “love” twice in the same sentence.
Trump even said he’d agree to a “clean DACA” separate from other issues that make up comprehensive immigration reform, such as “chain migration,” the ugly rhetorical phrase conservatives use to condemn what humane folks would call “family reunification.”
But Trump still wants that border wall and bragged that as a builder, he can get it done for less than $18 billion.
Maybe he can, but I thought linking border security as a condition to allow relief for DACA recipients is sure to be like a wall in Congress some won’t be able to get over.
Trump was the optimist.
“If we do the right bill…you’re not so far away from comprehensive immigration reform,” Trump said. “And if you want to take it that further step, I’ll take the heat. I don’t care. I’ll take all the heat you want to give me. And I’ll take the heat off both the Democrats and the Republicans.”
Those were the words by “Mr. I’ll Take The Heat” that began the negotiation that lawmakers on both sides trusted.
But by now we should know, Trump is not a man of his word.
We saw that days after the lovefest, when he referred to Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as “s—tholes.” And then denied it, despite what others said they heard.
And now we see the rhetoric change about DACA. Trump’s love? Maybe it was like the love he felt for Stormy Daniels, because now the word thrown around is “amnesty,” as in “no amnesty” – not for the DACA dreamers. And back we go into the political quicksand.
At this point, the saving grace is the action from U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco, who issued a nationwide preliminary injunction that blocked Trump from killing off DACA before several lawsuits challenging the program – by state attorneys from California, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, the University of California and DACA recipients – are resolved.
Judge Alsop’s ruling allows anyone who had DACA status on Sept. 5 the right to renew. And it buys a little more time for Congress to come up with a permanent solution instead of rushing to make what looked like a March 5 drop-dead date.
Indeed, UC President Janet Napolitano was adamant about what DACA individuals should do now.
“Enroll now, reapply now,” Napolitano said at a press event last week. She’s especially sure that DACA will stand up in court. “We were very careful in crafting DACA,” said Napolitano, who helped create DACA when she headed up Homeland Security in the Obama administration. “It complies with federal law. It complies with Supreme Court precedent and it complies with our values as a country.”
So maybe the best advice to DACA recipients and schools is to hang on for the courts to rule while Trump kicks sand in everyone’s face.
One year into his presidency and the shutdown exercise exposes the true value of the president’s words. Zero.
Trump should have learned by now, the United States is no reality show. We didn’t need another cliffhanger on DACA.
Emil Guillermo is an award-winning journalist and commentator. He writes for the civil rights group AALDEF at http://www.aalde.org/blog