Here we go again. On Easter Sunday, President Donald Trump resorted to his favorite pastime (Twitter) to amplify Fox News rhetoric, double down on his anti-immigrant platform to excite his base, and distract the nation from the scandals that threaten to tear this White House apart. So what’s the meaning behind Trump’s Fox-induced DACA tweets, and do Nevada’s immigrant communities have reason to fear?
Let’s remember why DACA is on court-ordered life support
Last September, it was Donald Trump’s decision to end the DACA program that’s protected some 800,000 young people (including 13,000 here in Nevada) from deportation. It was Trump’s decision to take DREAMers hostage and use them as leverage to obtain border wall funding and other anti-immigrant policies. And it was Trump’s decision to reject U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-New York) offer of compromise, and instead direct Republicans to propose a bill that was so unpopular that it could only muster 39 votes in a Republican-controlled Senate.
Oh, and let’s not forget that it’s Trump’s decision to continue to fight the lawsuits that are challenging the legal rationale for his decision to end DACA. In fact, the only reason why DACA still exists for the roughly 800,000 DREAMers who signed up before September 5, 2017, is because a California federal judge has issued an injunction that requires it to remain in place for them. And because the U.S. Supreme Court refused to expedite any of the lawsuits, the program must stay in place for current recipients as these suits work their way through the courts.
Why does this DACA fight matter?
While Trump tweets about Democrats allegedly killing a deal he already aborted long ago, immigrant communities are trying their best to navigate through a system that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was ready to mothball last month. These young Americans can now go to DHS, set their renewal appointments, and maintain the paperwork they need just to live something that might resemble some kind of normal life.
Yet at the same time, DREAMers realize that they and their family members are still at risk of being deported. The Trump administration has already been trying to deport DACA recipients, as they’re among the targets of the administration’s larger mass deportation regime. As long as there’s no permanent protection in place, DREAMers and their families will continue to be in danger.
By the way, what on earth is Trump actually tweeting about?
In his Twitter tirade yesterday, Trump blamed everyone and everything, from Democrats and “caravans” to the Mexican government and “catch and release” policy, for crime waves and drug overdoses. As usual, Trump’s tweets are not grounded in factual truth. (And no, Kellyanne Conway, “alternative facts” don’t count.)
In reality, the migrants coming in “caravans” are doing so to escape gang related violence in their native Central American countries, not participate in it. They’re actually coming here to seek the kind of asylum that’s historically been available to refugees. Despite Trump’s assertions, these Central American refugees are not eligible for DACA, but are entitled to the same Constitutional right to legal due process that everyone else has.
Also contrary to Trump’s assertions, neither refugees nor DREAMers are force-feeding opioids to anyone anywhere in America. We can debate just how responsible pharmaceutical companies and rising poverty levels are for the opioid epidemic, but it’s ludicrous for the White House and its allies to continue to misconstrue this problem, just so they have another talking point to use against immigrants.
What the Heller is this actually about?
Speaking of problems, we know the White House is struggling to find a solution to the problem that’s been plaguing its party for the past year. Republicans have suffered a string of embarrassing election defeats since last November, culminating with last month’s loss of a Pennsylvania House seat that Trump carried by nearly 20% in 2016. Now, they’re ramping up spending in an Arizona district that Republicans typically win in a cakewalk.
Why are Republicans panicking like this? Not only are Democrats rebounding in mostly white and blue-collar rural areas that swung heavily to Trump in 2016, but they’re also holding onto the gains that Hillary Clinton made in more diverse, white-collar, and college educated suburbs that Republicans used to dominate in. This ominous “Blue Wave” is causing a whole lot of heartburn in the GOP, including here in Nevada, where Senator Dean Heller (R) continues to struggle in his reelection bid and Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R) is having a harder time running for Governor than he originally bargained for.
As of late, Trump has only made matters worse for his Republican Party with the Stormy Daniels scandal, his penchant for metastasizing government instability, an escalating trade war with China (that American farmers already fear they’re losing), mounting anger over the federal government’s inaction on gun violence, and the ongoing “drip-drip” of revelations in the Trump-Russia investigation. And yet, Trump keeps trying to make everything better by throwing some political red meat to his base, even if he can’t match it with any actual policy accomplishments, such as the “big, beautiful wall” he promised during the campaign. Might this blustery bluff of a tweetstorm be another of Trump’s ham-handed attempts to get us to stop paying attention to a White House that’s drowning in scandal and controversy while lacking in actual, substantive achievements?
So do immigrants have reason to fear Trump’s Twitter threats?
Short answer: Not really.
Long answer: Immigrant communities must already grapple with the “deportation police state” that the Trump administration is already subjecting them to, but there’s only so much further they can go absent Congressional approval and appropriations. In reality, this may be less about changing any policies and more about winning the politics of debating immigration reform in an election year. And that ugly reality only adds further stench to Trump’s social media s—storm.