In his new book, Trump Must Go: The Top 100 Reasons to Dump Trump, radio host Bill Press provides a sweeping indictment of the President, including his unfitness for office, “Cabinet of thieves,” attacks on the environment and various other dumb and offensive behavior. What follows appears in the book as “Reason 17: He Cancelled Protected Status for Dreamers.”
Years from now, presidential historians will have a field day debating which was the most egregious of Donald Trump’s lies. But all of them will agree that this was one of the worst: “I have a great heart for the folks we are talking about, a great love for them,” Donald Trump told reporters on September 5, 2017, just hours after he had summarily canceled the DREAMers program and challenged Congress to vote to extend it in six months or else.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, was established by President Barack Obama by executive order in June 2012. It allowed young people who had been brought to the United States illegally to apply for protected status, enabling them to stay in the country without fear of deportation, for two years.
Rules were tough: No one with a criminal record was accepted. DREAMers had to renew their status, at their own expense, every two years. And they were never eligible for U.S. citizenship. By 2017, 800,000 young people had applied for protected DACA status, out of an estimated total 1.8 million who fit the DREAMers definition.
Obama created the DREAMers program after Congress rejected several attempts to pass the DREAM Act. If Congress refused to protect the DREAMers, the least controversial players in the whole immigration debate, Obama decided, then he would do so by executive order.
These are young people who were brought by their parents, through no choice of their own, before they were sixteen years old, and have lived here continuously since 2007. Most are from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, but know only the United States. They’re in school or have graduated, have jobs, pay taxes, and have families. Many of them have served in the military.
And they have broad public support. According to ABC News, in September 2017, when Trump canceled the program, 86 percent of Americans believed they should be allowed to remain in the country. A separate CBS News poll in January 2018 found 87 percent of Americans still agreed.
When Donald Trump took office, the DREAMers program was running smoothly. Eight hundred thousand young people had signed up. The program gave DREAMers the opportunity to get an education, get a job, or start a family without facing the constant fear of deportation.
And where did Donald Trump stand on the DREAMers program? Was he for it? Against it? Uncertain? Yes. All of the above. Among other promises made on June 16, 2015, when he announced he was running for president, was a pledge to terminate the DREAMers program immediately—a pledge he repeated often during the campaign.
Yet shortly after his election, Trump told Time magazine he sympathized with the DREAMers. Indeed, nobody described their plight more accurately: “They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen.”
But, in the end, for Donald Trump, there was one big problem with the DREAMers program: It had been started by Barack Obama. Therefore, it must be bad. Therefore, he had to end it. Which he proceeded to do.
In September 2017, Trump effectively killed DACA by shutting it down, and—under the pretext that Obama did not have the power as President to take any unilateral action on immigration, even though Trump was at the same time arguing he had the power to order a unilateral Muslim ban. He gave Congress six months, until March 5, 2018, to pass a law making the program permanent or it would cease to exist.
Then, in typical fashion, Congress did nothing—which Trump should have expected. Neither Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell nor House Speaker Paul Ryan made any effort to pass an immigration bill containing protection for DREAMers. In the one week slotted for debate on the issue, four different bills failed to pass the Senate.
President Trump didn’t do anything, either. In fact, he made it impossible for both sides to come together by insisting that any bill extending the DREAMers program also include $30 billion for the wall he wants to build along our southern border with Mexico. You know, the same wall Mexico was supposed to pay for. No wall, no deal.
All the while, Trump continued to lie shamelessly about what he and his party were up to. “The Republicans are with you; they want to get your situation taken care of,” he told DREAMers at the White House in March. “The Democrats fought us, they just fought every single inch of the way. They did not want DACA in this bill.”
Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress—and even many moderate Republicans—continued to work to save DACA, despite Trump’s constant, blatant lies to the contrary. In May 2018, when a discharge petition that would force a vote on DACA was circulated in the House by Carlos Curbelo, a Florida Republican in an immigrant-heavy district, Paul Ryan and the House GOP leadership worked frantically behind closed doors to block it.
And so, as of this writing, the DREAMers still remain in limbo. Disgusted with the nonstop political games being played with DACA, several of them have remarked, “We feel like bargaining chips.” That’s because, to Donald Trump, that’s all they are.
From Trump Must Go: The Top 100 Reasons to Dump Trump [And One to Keep Him] by Bill Press, St. Martin’s Press, excerpted with permission.
Wars, Wars, and More Wars
Bonus excerpt from Reason 74:“He’s Continued and Expanded America’s Wars.”
When it comes to ending wars, as we all know from long, sad experience, presidential promises can’t always be trusted. Barack Obama campaigned on a promise to end the “bad” war in Iraq and to work toward shutting down the “good” war in Afghanistan. Except, when he left office eight years later, we were not only still fighting the “good” war and the “bad” war, we were also fighting a new war in Syria. With Donald Trump, it’s more of the same.
“Ron Paul is right that we are wasting trillions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he tweeted in 2011. “Afghanistan is a complete waste. Time to come home!” he wrote the next year. In 2016, he (rightly) blamed George W. Bush for the “big fat mistake” of the Iraq War during a GOP presidential debate.
And yet the Iraq War, now under the banner of Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS, lingers on. He has sent more American troops to Afghanistan. There are more American support troops in Syria, and we are also secretly militarily engaged in several countries in northern Africa— with most of that activity taking place under the radar and barely, if ever, reported.
In other words, like Obama, Trump hasn’t ended any of America’s wars, he’s just started new ones. Most Americans would be surprised to learn, for example, that civilian deaths in the Middle East have soared under Trump. His first year in office, 2017, was the deadliest year ever for civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria, with as many as six thousand people killed in strikes by the U.S.-led coalition.
Yet the media’s been so consumed with Trump tweets, Stormy Daniels, Roseanne Barr, or whatever the newest daily outrage is, they rarely report on these casualties. In March 2018, for example, the media spent virtually no time reporting on 150 civilians, including scores of children, killed when U.S. forces repeatedly bombed a school in Syria, or dozens of other civilians killed in bombings of mosques and markets.
Without a doubt, the uptick in civilian casualties was a direct result of Trump’s campaign promise to “bomb the shit out of ’em”—a directive he gave the Pentagon once in the White House. Indeed, in direct contravention of the Geneva convention, Trump has been cheering on more collateral damage.
“We’re fighting a very politically correct war,” he complained during the election campaign. The “thing with the terrorists—you have to take out their families. When you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families!” In fact, on his first day in office, when he was told by the CIA that they had waited on a drone strike until the target was away from his family, Trump angrily harrumphed, “Why did you wait?”
— Bill Press