Why Trump clings to a cynical lie about Dreamers, DACA

DREAMers (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) listen to speakers during a "United we Dream," rally on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 10, 2013.  (Photo by Alex Brandon/AP)
DREAMers (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) listen to speakers during a "United we Dream," rally on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday,...

Donald Trump delivered a message to the Latino Coalition Legislative Summit last week, telling attendees that the failure to protect Dreamers from his administration's own policy is Congress' fault. More specifically, he urged the Latino Coalition to blame Democrats for not embracing the White House's immigration plan.

Trump insisted that Democrats "don't care about our immigration system" which is why the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program -- a program the president rescinded -- is in doubt.

Over the weekend, at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania, the president went a little further:

"[Democrats] want to stop DACA. DACA is their issue. But I'm willing to go along and get it done. [...]"I offered a deal that was so good you can't refuse, right, like the mob pictures. I will give you a deal that is so good, you can't refuse. I made a deal. I gave a deal so good, they could not refused. And I did it because I thought they were going to refuse. And they did. And they are getting killed now by the DACA recipients. They are getting killed."

None of this reflects reality in any way, though in this specific instance, I'm less interested in the fact that Trump is lying about DACA and more interested in why Trump is lying about DACA.

The facts are unambiguous: after assuring Dreamers that he wouldn't punish them, Trump ended the DACA program. Scrambling to protect these young immigrants, Democrats offered the president six different bipartisan agreements, each of which Trump either rejected or walked away from.

Meanwhile, the president pushed a non-negotiable far-right alternative: he'd extend protections to Dreamers if Congress gave him $25 billion for a border wall and dramatic cuts to legal immigration. Democrats, independents, immigration advocates, and quite a few Senate Republicans said this was simply a bridge too far. In a GOP-led Senate, Trump plan generated just 39 votes.

It was, to borrow the president's phrasing, an offer that was quite easy to refuse.

But Trump still won't budge. Even after Democrats agreed to the money for the border wall, Trump said it wasn't enough -- he needed cuts to legal immigration, too.

There is literally no evidence that any immigration advocates involved in the debate are blaming Democrats for any of this. For Trump, the line between wishful thinking and reality is too often blurred.

So why is the president lying so brazenly? Because Trump realizes that the politics of this debate aren't going his way. As we discussed a month ago, this president has a great many flaws, but he tends to understand what will affect his own personal standing. Trump realizes, in this case, that if he starts deporting hundreds of thousands of Dreamers, the threat of a political backlash is real. After all, the American mainstream supports DACA protections for these young immigrants and opposes the White House's approach.

And so, in order to protect himself politically, Trump has to lie -- brazenly and repeatedly -- as he did again over the weekend.