DREAMers (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) listen to speakers during a "United we Dream," rally on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday,...
Alex Brandon/AP

Trump adds Dreamers to his ‘no angels’ club

Updated

When it comes to Dreamers and the young immigrants’ fate, Donald Trump has long struggled to maintain some semblance of coherence. At various times, the Republican president has both assured Dreamers that they need not worry about deportation and taken steps to destroy the DACA program that protects them from deportation.

It’s against this backdrop that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments this morning in a case that will likely determine whether the administration can tear down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The president marked the occasion by publishing a very odd tweet this morning:

“Many of the people in DACA, no longer very young, are far from ‘angels.’ Some are very tough, hardened criminals. President Obama said he had no legal right to sign order, but would anyway. If Supreme Court remedies with overturn, a deal will be made with Dems for them to stay!”

It was last month when Trump first admonished our Kurdish allies, arguing that they’re “no angels.” Evidently, as of this morning, he’s adding Dreamers to the same club.

Putting that aside, let’s do a little fact checking. Are some of the Dreamers “hardened criminals”? No. As Trump really ought to know, immigrants with significant criminal records are not eligible for the DACA program. Did Barack Obama say he had no legal right to create DACA? No. Trump’s peddled this one before, and it’s plainly ridiculous.

What I found especially entertaining, though, was what happens when we connect Trump’s second sentence with his fourth: the president seemed to argue this morning that some Dreamers are dangerous criminals, whom he’ll allow to remain in the United States if Democrats agree to give him what he wants.

As for the terms of the “deal” Trump is eager to make, it’s worth remembering how important this detail is to the larger debate. He’s spent much of his presidency looking desperately for leverage over Democrats, whom Trump wants to force into giving him deep cuts to legal immigration, among other things.

The president clearly knows that Democrats – who’ve offered the White House a series of bipartisan immigration packages, each of which Trump has rejected – won’t go along with such a far-right package, which is why he’s so eager to put Dreamers in jeopardy.

They are, for all intents and purposes, pawns Trump is eager to use.