Signaling sympathies to white supremacists in Charlottesville. Pardoning Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. And now ending the DACA program.
In the space of a few weeks, President Donald Trump has turned the federal government — for at least 50 years the protector of civil rights for vulnerable, maligned minorities — into an instrument for the very opposite.
Today’s announcement that he is rescinding the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which has offered protections for nearly 800,000 young immigrants who were brought here as children with no intent of their own — including nearly 40,000 in Florida — is arguably the worst.
As Jennifer Rubin, the conservative writer of the Washington Post’s Right Turn blog put it:
Of all the actions Trump has taken, none has been as cruel, thoughtless or divisive as deporting hundreds of thousands of young people who’ve done nothing but go to school, work hard and present themselves to the government.
As if he didn’t have the nerve to face the public himself, Trump sent his attorney general, the former senator with the past of racist accusations against him, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions 3rd, to announce the decision. Sessions’ statement was filled with claptrap about restoring the rule of law and constitutional order after President Barack Obama’s “overreach” in signing the program into existence by executive order.
Trump’s DACA cancellation doesn’t get fully implemented for six months, supposedly to give Congress time to come up with a legislative solution: a way for Dreamers to earn their right to stay here as legal citizens. Fat chance of that. It was because Congress failed so many times to grapple with the complications of illegal immigration that Obama finally decided to act: If he couldn’t solve every issue, at least he could help the most innocent of the people caught between two worlds.
About 70 percent of voters in most polls, Republicans and Democrats, back the DACA program, believing that Dreamers deserve sympathy and support. And why not? They are doing everything we expect of citizens. Ninety-one percent of Dreamers are working. They are projected to contribute $460.3 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product over the next decade — that is, if they aren’t mindlessly kicked out of the country.
Even Trump has said, “We love the Dreamers…We think the Dreamers are terrific.”
But Trump loves the crowds at his rallies even more. Increasingly, he is defining himself as the president of his base — a base burning with white grievance — not president of the United States.
A real president of the United States would know in his soul that we’re a nation based on an essential bedrock of inclusion. It’s in our motto: E pluribus unum.
Out of many, one.