President Donald Trump pauses before signing an executive order about regulatory reform in the Oval Office of the White House February 24, 2017 in Washington, DC.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Trump forgets to pretend he’s supposed to like DACA

Updated

Donald Trump announced the end of the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program for Dreamers last year, prompting more than one federal lawsuit, including one in a D.C. court that hasn’t gone well for the White House.

It’s not, however, the only case. Indeed, just last week, a federal judge in Texas heard arguments in litigation coming at the debate from the opposite direction: Texas and eight other states are eager to kill DACA altogether, and have asked the judiciary to rule that the Obama administration was wrong to create the program in the first place.

The result is a sort of legal limbo: some federal courts have mandated that the administration continue to operate as if DACA is sound legal policy, but those decisions have been appealed by the Trump administration, which also believes the Texas court may soon end the program.

Donald Trump lent his personal support for the Republicans’ case just the other day. Politico  reported:

President Donald Trump on Thursday praised a lawsuit led by Texas to repeal an Obama-era program that grants work permits to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, saying he hopes the legal action is “successful.”

“[Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton] just filed a very interesting lawsuit, which I think is going to be very successful,” Trump said on Thursday in New Jersey during a roundtable discussion on prison reform that included several governors and state attorneys general. “I hope it’s going to be successful.”

At face value, this probably didn’t surprise anyone. After all, Trump’s the one who tried to end Dreamers’ protections in the first place. It wasn’t exactly shocking to see the president express support for litigation that would put a dagger through DACA’s heart.

The trouble is, Trump has invested quite a bit of energy into pretending to be DACA’s true champion – and his candid comments lay bare the cynicism of his recent lies on the subject.

In February, for example, the president wrote on Twitter, “Cannot believe how BADLY DACA recipients have been treated by the Democrats…totally abandoned! Republicans are still working hard.” Trump pushed the same line, ad nauseam, for months, insisting that he deeply cared about shielding Dreamers, while Democrats were indifferent to their plight.

In April, the president even politicized the Easter Egg Roll, using the event to argue, in reference to DACA beneficiaries, “The Democrats have really let them down…. They really let them down…. The Democrats have really let them down.”

There was no sane way to believe any of this, but Trump, likely aware of public support for protections for Dreamers, tried to pretend that he, unlike Dreamers’ actual allies, was really the one who wanted DACA to survive, reality notwithstanding.

And yet, here we are. Trump, at least for now, has abandoned the pretense that he supports Dreamers, and instead has endorsed litigation to end the DACA program altogether.

At a White House event in March, the president said, “I do want the Hispanic community to know and DACA recipients to know that Republicans are much more on your side than the Democrats.”

It was a ridiculous thing to say at the time. It looks a little worse now.