Monday, September 4, 2017


Yesterday--on the President's National Day of Prayer, Trump decided (after some dithering) to end DACA in 6 months.

DACA is the Obama-era policy that lets illegal immigrants brought to the country as young children who have a clean legal record, stay and work in the US.

What Does The Omnivore Think?

There was a lot of outrage last night on Twitter--and The Omnivore expects more to come--but honestly, The Omnivore isn't too het up about this. Why not?

To start with. let's be clear about a few things:

This Is Heartless, Horrible--and Trump Probably Didn't Enjoy Doing It

Trump, The Omnivore avers, does not especially want to kick these kids--now many young adults productively employed--out of the country, some going back in to war zones--many who (a) don't speak anything but English, (b) were raised and enculturated as Americans, and (c) in some cases did not even know they weren't born here.

Trump (allegedly--but The Omnivore believes anonymous reports) struggled with this decision and, in the end, "split the baby" by "giving time for Congress to act." Trump had said that Dreamers (DACA recipients) would be just fine previously and, The Omnivore will provide the benefit of the doubt, meant it.

That Doesn't Mean Trump Did The Right Thing

Trump could have extended it and called on Congress to pass a law. Trump could have given them 4 years--a chance at a second term (presumably a second Trump term, of course). Trump could have done what he did--but given a rousing speech about American values (these children are the victims of actions of their parents--not law-breakers themselves) and the value of immigrants in general.

He did none of this. He punted the decision to Congress after some agonizing teasing of these vulnerable people.

This Is A Racist Please-The-Base Policy

Trump's recent moves such as pardoning Joe Arpiao, have had a pretty constant thread: they appeal to his base and no one else. That's why 56% of the people Fox polled said he's "Tearing the nation apart." Why is this policy racist? 

  • There Is No Cost-Benefit Ratio In Kicking Out Dreamers: Even if you argue that DACA was illegal to start with, there is zero reason to have ICE lift a pinky to kick these kids out. They are morally innocent (they had no say in coming here), they are a net-benefit (clean records, many are outstanding citizens), and they are as American, culturally, as any natural-born immigrant.
  • His Base Loves It: The hard-core Trump voters have, let us say, a veeeery hard line on immigration of brown-skinned people. Sheriff Joe Arpiao was detaining brown-skinned people on suspicion of being illegals--a Federal Judge told him to stop. He didn't. He got cited for contempt. Trump took care of him. There's a common thread here . . . if u look.
  • But It Was Illegal!! Anyone who tells you the primary reason to end this policy was because it was presidential over-reach is lying to you--and to themselves. That isn't why Trump did it. It isn't why his base likes it. The vast, vast majority of humanity doesn't even think like that (and if you claim you do, well, 10 seconds of looking usually shows you're, uhm, real selective about that).

Congress Will Probably Screw This Up

Punting this to Congress was cowardly (without a speech about doing the right thing, anyway) and likely ineffective. Firstly, six months will put us in the middle of the 2018 campaign. This is probably the worst time to have Congress take decisive action that some portion of their base may not be happy with. 

Secondly, while some members of Congress (Orin Hatch) have shown solidarity with the Dreamers, there is sufficient votes in, for example, the Freedom Caucus to shut that whole thing down. Unless Congress passes a bi-partisan immigration bill, it won't go anywhere. The climate for this not. shall we say, good.

Thirdly, and finally, Congress will have a lot on its plate. Adding this is just another straw on a broken camel's back. If Trump had shown / exercised leadership on this, well, that'd be one thing. But he didn't.

So Why Isn't The Omnivore Outraged?

Firstly because we saw this coming. The Omnivore was pretty sure this would happen and it did. When Trump was elected, this was priced in. DACA was always fragile. Part of that was the way it was created--but a bigger part was that we, as a country, haven't made a decision where we stand on immigration from a moral perspective. The fact that most of these people would probably vote Democrat, if given the chance, was something the GOP could never deal with in a satisfactory fashion.

Secondly: The Dreamers are organized, sympathetic, and have powerful backing. They have a much better shot of coming through okay--somehow--than, for example transgendered patriots who want to serve / continue serving in the military. Trump may discover that the people he has decided to hurt here are closer to his "weight class" than he expected.

Even more importantly, while Trump's base wants them out, as The Omnivore said, Trump probably doesn't (he may not care all that much, of course). There is at least a chance that he helps the Dreamers come through this (The Omnivore can hear you laughing). If Congress does step in then shoring this up with actual law--the correct way--is the right way to approach this.

To be very clear: Trump could have demanded this action (that Congress make DACA a law correctly) but he didn't--that would have infuriated his base. But that doesn't mean it won't happen. The odds aren't good--but it might.

Finally, Trump is managing to draw, again, a bright-line distinction between what his base wants and what the country as a whole wants. He can stage a good photo-op or give a decent speech (given a few tries) but the GOP is going to have to grapple with the fact that its core voters are, well, kinda deplorable.

Admitting you have a problem is the first step in solving it and with each day in this presidency we get closer to admitting that as a country.

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