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Another new low / September 07, 2017
Stupid and cruel: Say hello to Donald Trump’s America. In his continuing quest to hit rock bottom, the president broke new ground Tuesday with the announcement that he would end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), the program that has allowed some 800,000 young people to live and thrive without fear of deportation after being brought to the U.S. as children by their immigrant parents. The Dreamers, as they’re widely known, are citizens of the U.S. in all but name. America is home, and the only country they’ve ever known, for the vast majority of DACA applicants. What a bitter blow it must be to learn that the country they love is not a country that values fairness and compassion, judging from the man who was elected to lead from the Oval Office. Just when you think Trump is fresh out of new lows to plumb, he confounds expectations again.

One could go on and on about all the ways Trump’s DACA decision is both stupid and cruel (chapter headings might include “economically counterproductive,” “contrary to American values”, “destroying the dreams and aspirations of innocent young people”), but let’s focus on only one of the hideous aspects of this decision: the lies that preceded it. “We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud,” said Trump on the subject of DACA in a Time magazine interview back in December. “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.”

Dreamers, said the president on another occasion, “shouldn’t be very worried” about “what’s going to happen” to them under a Trump Administration. “I do have a big heart,” he said. “We are going to deal with DACA with heart … because, you know, I love these kids. I love kids! I have kids and grandkids.” Trump’s big heart, as we found out again this week, is just like his promises — empty and cold. If ever there ever been an American president whose word is more worthless than Trump’s, I must have missed out on the name in all the histories I’ve ever read and seen on TV.

Donald Trump has been a disaster from day one in the White House, and we’ll be lucky as a people and a nation to emerge from his misrule intact, but there is a special quality to the wretchedness of his DACA decision that is breathtaking to behold. For starters, he couldn’t muster the gumption to break the news personally, instead sending out Jeff Session, his bigoted, virulently anti-immigrant Attorney General, to announce the change in policy. Then, of course, there’s his weasely effort to lay blame elsewhere for the pain and suffering this action will create, by demanding that Congress step in to fix the problem of the Dreamers. (And do not underestimate the hardships these young people will now face: all of a sudden, after playing by the rules, contributing to society, and fulfilling all the other requirements for DACA status, hundreds of thousands of individuals, mostly in their 20s, must plan for a near future in which they could be separated from their families and shipped out of the country.)

Congress, of course, can’t be counted upon to help. In theory, there probably are enough Republicans willing to cross the aisle and join with Democrats to pass reasonably humane legislation along the lines of the DREAM Act, a bipartisan bill that sets forth a pathway to citizenship for immigrants brought here as children. Alas, the prospects for success on this front are just that: theoretical. The DREAM Act has already failed repeatedly in Congress, and it’s no secret why: Republican members are either too afraid to cross the party’s rabid base on immigration, or else they possess the same cretinous views on the subject that you might see from some whackjob posting incessantly on Facebook. Congressional Republicans bow at the knee of Rush Limbaugh; that’s the first and last thing you need to know when analyzing what they might do next. Alex Shephard, writing for The New Republic, stated the point well: “Trump’s approach to immigration is simply a clumsy version of what Republicans have been doing for years, showing the extent to which one of America’s two major parties has become a zombie vessel for a strident minority, so incapable at governance that their actions bleed into what can only be called anti-governance. After all, it takes a special kind of pathology to kill a program with the support of 80 percent of Americans, with no pressing need, and so many lives and livelihoods at stake.”

“Zombie vessel for a strident minority”: I’ll have to file away that description of the Republican Party for future use. Alas, it was more than a strident zombie army that elected Donald Trump as president: the Wingnut Express had millions of people tagging along who are not extreme in their thinking, and who in fact are generally decent and intelligent, although they’re certainly guilty of not giving careful thought to the political choices in the most recent election. What Trump and extremists in the Republican Party have done on with DACA should anger and offend decent people everywhere. And the lies that have been told on behalf of this disgusting action should put everyone on notice that they’re not immune to similar treatment. Trump waverers and wait-and-see supporters should understand one thing: there is no bottom. There’s only freefalling, and that’s how the story goes unless and until voters decide otherwise.

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