FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump takes part in a forum called Generation Next at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, U.S., March...
Leah Millis

With Easter declaration, Trump’s confusion upends immigration debate

Updated

Donald Trump wished the public a “HAPPY EASTER!” yesterday, shortly before he apparently called off negotiations intended to protect the Dreamers he put at risk when he rescinded the DACA policy.

Trump declared there would be “NO MORE DACA DEAL,” referring to an Obama-era protection of millions of undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, and called for congressional Republicans to pass tougher immigration policies because the U.S. border with Mexico is “Getting more dangerous.”

In the tweets, Trump wrote that “Mexico is doing very little” to keep migrants from crossing into that country from the south or from then crossing into America from the north. “They laugh at our dumb immigration laws,” he said.

Given the timing and context, it appears the president was worked up about something he saw on Fox News – a familiar dynamic that explains his outbursts.

Speaking briefly to reporters before entering a church for Easter services, Trump added, “A lot of people are coming in because they want to take advantage of DACA and we are going to have to really see. They had a great chance. The Democrats blew it.”

There are two core problems to this. The first is that the president appears to have no idea what he’s talking about. The second is that Trump, by declaring his latest position, may not have been declaring his latest position at all.

On the first point, we know DACA isn’t encouraging border crossings because new arrivals wouldn’t be eligible for DACA protections, even if Trump hadn’t rescinded the policy. It’s not unreasonable to wonder if the president has familiarized himself with the basics of this issue.

As for the idea that Democrats “blew it” by not agreeing to a bipartisan deal, the president has the facts exactly backwards: Dems offered Trump at least six bipartisan compromises on immigration, including a package that would’ve funded his beloved border-wall proposal. The president rejected each of them, insisting he needed both wall funding and drastic cuts to legal immigration.

Trump’s refusal to accept a deal – in effect, insisting he wouldn’t take “yes” for an answer – was among his most significant political mistakes. If that reality is slowly sinking in, it may help explain the basis his little Twitter tantrum yesterday.

But even if we put aside the relevant details, a more fundamental problem lurks in the background. A New York Times  report noted in passing, “It was unclear whether the president’s tweets represented any change in his immigration policy, or were just the sort of venting he is known to do after reading a newspaper article or seeing a television program.”

This is both accurate and amazing. We have no idea if Trump, by stating his position, was actually stating his position. It’s entirely possible he meant what he said, but it’s equally possible the president will adopt an entirely different posture today. If recent history is any guide, the White House may pretend yesterday’s tweets were never published.

No one, including the president, has any idea what Trump’s position will be on any issue at any time, and his public declarations don’t help because of his routine dishonesty and general confusion about his administration’s agenda.

In other words, Trump is not a reliable source of information about Trump’s plans, positions, or priorities.

Donald Trump, Immigration Policy and Mexico

With Easter declaration, Trump's confusion upends immigration debate

Updated