Donald Trump, concerned about conditions at the U.S./Mexico border, this morning published a familiar refrain on Twitter.
"Congress should come back to D.C. now and FIX THE IMMIGRATION LAWS!"
I'm not entirely sure why he's insisting that lawmakers "come back to D.C. now" since Congress is already scheduled to be in session today, and House and Senate members will be on Capitol Hill.
But it's the larger point that struck me as notable: the president believes the nation's immigration laws are in need of reform, and he wants lawmakers to take up the issue. At face value, that's not an unreasonable position. Indeed, Trump's two most recent predecessors -- one Democrat, one Republican -- also pushed Congress to approve comprehensive immigration reform. Both efforts failed in the face of intractable GOP opposition.
But both the Bush administration and the Obama administration championed specific legislative proposals, which the respective White House teams helped write, shape, and lobby on behalf of. Both presidents were actively and personally involved in engaging Congress in the hopes of advancing legislation, the details of which they helped negotiate.
When Donald Trump, however, presses lawmakers to "fix the immigration laws," he's not referring to a legislative package -- because there is no legislative package. This president prefers profound passivity, barking orders from the Oval Office, and hoping Congress will simply figure something out.
And while it's obviously true that it's up to the legislative branch to debate and pass bills, in the American policymaking process, there's generally an expectation that a sitting president will help take the lead, especially on issues of great importance to the White House, to help turn an administration's goal into reality.
Therein lies one of the core problems with the Trump presidency: America's first amateur president doesn't know how to engage Congress to get what he what he wants, and he's surprisingly incurious about learning.
As things stand, the president wants an immigration reform bill. Has he presented a plan? No. Has he hosted White House talks? No. Has he opened negotiations with congressional leaders? No.