By: Connor McNairn, Columnist
Seldom am I afforded the opportunity to write columns on the president, as my area of focus concerns the U.S. legislature and judiciary. But this weekend, in his infinite wisdom, President Donald Trump graced the nation with yet another set of eccentric tweets, many of which roughly pertain to contemporary congressional debates.
On Easter morning, Trump lambasted immigrants and demonized those – mainly Democrats – who actively try to streamline and liberalize immigration processes. Additionally, the president threatened NAFTA rollbacks on the grounds that Mexico actively aids and abets undocumented immigrants.
Just before 10 a.m., the president tweeted that “liberal (Democrat) laws like Catch & Release” disallow border patrol agents from doing their jobs. In the same post, the president ramped up the rhetoric, citing “caravans” of “dangerous” immigrants coming to the U.S. The tweet continued with Trump calling on Republicans to change congressional rules and utilize the “nuclear option,” which would allow the GOP to ram through legislation with a simple majority. The president concluded with the grandiose declaration: “NO MORE DACA DEAL!”
In recent months, as I’ve covered in earlier columns, congressional Republicans and Democrats have sparred over border security and immigration procedures. As Democrats have pushed for greater protections of DACA recipients following Trump’s move to dissolve the program, Republicans have countered with demands for the funding of a wall along the Mexican-American border. In fact, in mid-March, reports swirled of a short-term plan that would extend DACA protections for three years in exchange for border wall funding.
On Sunday, however, the president made clear that such a deal was no longer on the table, and instead continued his rant. In a later tweet, Trump claimed that Mexico was “doing very little, if not NOTHING,” to stop illegal immigration. The president proceeded to call U.S. immigration law “dumb,” and threatened an end to NAFTA.
In his final Easter morning tweet, the president accused immigrants of trying to take advantage of DACA, claiming they “want in on the act!”
The significance of Trump’s Sunday morning diatribe is not that he called for the disbanding of NAFTA; this seems to occur every few weeks for the commander-in-chief. Rather, Trump’s hardline position once again demonstrates the president’s proclivity for flip-flopping on crucial policy positions, as the president’s homeland security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen met with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto just last week to discuss trade and security. The president’s tweets, which came just moments after the cast of “Fox and Friends” disseminated identical rhetoric, also reinforced his commitment to right wing television punditry.
The United States has not seen significant immigration reform since the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) under President Ronald Reagan. While roughly 3 million undocumented immigrants received amnesty through the 1986 act, 800,000 individuals who were brought to the United States as children and young adults now stand to lose protective status as a result of the president’s instability.
The president’s performance on Sunday morning, aimed at further spreading the fires of nativism and xenophobia originally stoked during the 2016 election, effectively makes Congress’ ability to legislate much more difficult.
Our founders installed a tripartite system of government to ensure systematic checks on potentially dangerous and incapable leaders. But when the branch of government offered the greatest amount of constitutional power – the legislature – is rendered ineffective by inherent dysfunction, and when the executive has little regard for decency, is mired by ineptitude, and suffers from a lack of leadership, there are few who stand to gain from such behavior.