With his racist comments, Trump upends immigration negotiations.
The headlines this week were dominated by the immigration talks on Capitol Hill and President Trump’s loud, difficult, and racist reentrance into that debate. There’s an urgency to it, as you’re probably aware, thanks to Trump’s September decision to rescind former president Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. That move set the countdown clock ticking, and was meant to galvanize a real legislative solution to an issue that’s been hanging under a cloud since Obama established DACA under executive order in 2012.
The outcome, should negotiations fail, is clear and horrible: starting in March, the nearly 800,000 ‘dreamers’ brought to the US as babies and children will be deported, to countries that most of them have never known.
Just about everyone wants to avoid this, which would seem to make it an easy target for bipartisan legislation, but: Trump and other immigration hardliners are leveraging the deadline on DACA to demand more stringent immigration restrictions – in particular, they’re aiming to eliminate chain migration and diversity lotteries – along with funding for a wall along the US-Mexico border – The Wall, in fact, that Trump invoked so often during his 2016 presidential campaign.
It’s tough to tell if any progress was made this week, as the news lurched from hopeful, to bad, to weird, to uncertain, to horrible, to (sort of) good:
- Even as the Trump administration announced it was ending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nearly 200,000 Salvadorans who’ve been in the US since an earthquake struck El Salvador in 2001, lawmakers were expressing optimism that a deal would be reached:
- “Everybody wants to find a deal there, myself included,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), chair of the “stoutly conservative” House Freedom Caucus.
- “I think most like where it’s going,” said Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE). “And I think that this is an area that’s tailor-made for a bipartisan solution. We both want some things here.”
- “They want to be engaged in the conversation in hopes that it will build a bipartisan consensus,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), of the bipartisan group of No. 2s from both chambers.
- In a publicized meeting on Tuesday likely meant to showcase Trump’s ‘stable genius’ and negotiating skills, Republicans and Democrats jockeyed for the president’s ear, with ultimately no decision one way or the other.
- Trump said he wanted both “a bill of love” for dreamers, and tighter immigration restrictions, ultimately concluding that “my positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with.”
- Later that night, a federal judge in San Francisco issued an injunction against the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA, temporarily blocking it. In his ruling, US District Judge William Alsup wrote that DACA recipients “are likely to suffer serious, irreparable harm” as a result of the decision, and that DACA “has become an important program for DACA recipients and their families, for the employers who hire them, for our tax treasuries, and for our economy.”
- On Friday, Alsup elaborated on his decision, claiming that Trump’s “racial animus towards Mexicans and Latinos” may have been a motivating factor in the decision to end DACA.
- On Thursday, the flames of controversy ignited when Trump referred to Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries” while he was briefed on a bipartisan plan from a group of six senators.
- Trump was roundly condemned by Democrats, Republicans, and the international community, and some cable news hosts even took the unusual step of labeling Trump as racist.
- Because the national spotlight is focused on immigration, Trump’s comments received a lot of attention, but this isn’t the first time he’s made disparaging remarks about immigrants and other countries: weeks ago, the New York Times reported that Trump claimed that Haitians “all have AIDS” and said that Nigerian immigrants would never “go back to their huts” once allowed into the US. And of course, he kicked off his presidential campaign in December 2015 by calling Mexican immigrants rapists.
- In a Friday morning tweet, Trump appeared to deny using the reported language, and in a Saturday morning tweet, he preemptively blamed the Democrats for failed negotiations.
- On Saturday, in light of Judge Alsup’s decision, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) resumed accepting DACA requests.
At the New Yorker, Robin Wright argues that “with one word—just the latest in a string of slurs about other nations and peoples—he has demolished his ability to be taken seriously on the global stage.”
The Editors at the National Review condemn Trump’s language but defend his “restrictionist agenda,” arguing that Trump would do himself a favor “by cleaning up his remarks and straightening out his thinking.”
After spending a week under fire for comments he made about the president’s son, Steve Bannon was forced out at Breitbart on Tuesday.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein released a transcript of testimony given by Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS, the firm behind the controversial Trump dossier authored by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele.
- In his testimony, Simpson stressed that Steele sought to show the dossier to the FBI because he was concerned that Trump was being blackmailed by Russians.
- Feinstein’s move came after Chuck Grassley, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, recommended Steele be charged with a crime.
- It debunks the notion, popular among Republicans, that the dossier was compiled as a smear tactic by Democrats.
Kentucky became the first state to “require many of its Medicaid recipients to work in order to receive coverage,” after the Trump administration announced on Thursday it would allow states to impose work requirements for Medicaid.
The House passed its NSA spying bill on Thursday after getting conflicting messages from President Trump.
- The bill, supported by most Republicans on the hill, briefly lost Trump’s support after he watched a segment on Fox News that alleged the surveillance program authorized by the bill had been used to spy on the Trump campaign in 2016.
President Trump again waived sanctions against Iran, but warned this would be the last time, unless the Iranian nuclear deal is ‘fixed.’
- The administration did, however, place sanctions against “14 Iranian nationals and organizations for behavior unrelated to the country’s nuclear program.”
- Among those targeted was Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani, chief of Iran’s judiciary. The sanctions against Larijani triggered a warning from Iran, which said its response “will be severe.”
Thanks to a ‘user error’ at Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, Hawaiians received “an emergency alert notification warn[ing] of a ballistic missile threat” on Saturday morning.
header image: "president donald j. trump and prime minister erna solberg of norway | January 10, 2018," the white house / flickr