Trump Bravely Kills the Already Dead DACA Fix
Only a man with a big heart can dump on foreign workers while enjoying their services.
To spread good cheer on Easter Sunday, President Trump tweet stormed that the DACA fix to legalize Dreamers was off the
table because it had become a magnet for Latin Americans. He demanded, for the nth time, that Congressional Republicans use the nuclear option to pass border legislation because "our country is being stolen" (a claim, Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol wryly observed, probably sounds better in original German).
Trump's claims are as patently absurd as his motives are clear. DACA cannot possibly be any kind of an attraction for anyone not already in the country because no one who entered after June 15, 2007 would be eligible for legalization under any scenario. Trump has a tendency to fill the gaps in his knowledge by confabulations (as he himself boasts) but he can't possibly not know this. So what's going on?
Basically, he is pretending that he is still calling the shots on an issue that he lost because he overplayed his hand. Thanks to the influence of White House's resident nativist, Steve Miller, he spurned a clean DACA-for-wall-deal that was his for the taking. It would have given him everything he wanted on border security—including $25 billion for a useless wall and more agents to patrol it—allowing him to fulfill a key campaign promise. Instead of eagerly grabbing it, he upped the ante and demanded a nativist version of comprehensive immigration reform that would have even cut legal immigration in half, causing a revolt in his own party.
Trump has changed his tune on the Dreamers so frequently—from initially claiming that he has a "big heart" and he'd take care of them to scrapping DACA and taking them hostage to advance a grand restrictionist agenda—that no one takes anything he says seriously anymore. Therefore, he has now decided to walk away from a deal that died weeks ago to cover over the fact that he snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. It is not easy to be "winning all the time"!
All of this is terribly tragic for the Dreamers, whom vast majorities of Americans support legalizing, not to mention America itself given that the country has invested so much in them only to potentially lose them when they reach the most productive period of their lives.
But Dreamers, regardless of whether Congress offers them "amnesty" or not, are a waning issue as is the undocumented population in general because net flows on the southern border are now negative and not likely to pick up any time soon—or ever. The undocumented population for a decade has been steadily shrinking for the simple reason that, since the Great Recession, more Mexicans have been returning to Mexico than entering the United States. That's because Mexico, along with the rest of Latin America, has completed its demographic transition and doesn't have a massive surplus of underemployed young men seeking better jobs and a better life abroad. (Demographic transition refers to a situation when a country has modernized enough so that its infant mortality rates have dropped but not so much that its fertility rates have followed suit, resulting in a population boom. Every country in the world except for sub-Saharan Africa has completed this transition.)
The caravan of Central Americans featured on Fox News that aroused Trump's ire and prompted the volley of tweets consisted of asylum seekers fleeing violence in their home countries who would have turned themselves in at border checkpoints and petitioned for shelter through normal established channels—not illegally scaled walls. Such flows have always existed—and will continue to do so—but unless Mexico and its surrounding countries turn into Syria, America won't face a "big flow of people" as Trump breathlessly claimed, just an occasional trickle that is well within its capacity to absorb, nativist fear mongering notwithstanding.
Trump reportedly fired his tweets from Mar-a-Lago, his super exclusive resort that runs on the back of cheap foreign labor. It takes a special knack to dump on people while enjoying their services. But Trump, the man with the "big heart," was up to the task—on Easter no less.