It was President Donald Trump that decided in September to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Trump and his anti-immigrant White House aides then worked this week to torpedo the bipartisan compromise bill that would have codified DACA into law. Yet Trump on Friday blamed Democrats for Congress’ failure to pass a DACA fix that would have allowed roughly 1.8 million DACA-eligible undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children the ability to live and work in the U.S.
“Cannot believe how BADLY DACA recipients have been treated by the Democrats...totally abandoned!” Trump tweeted Friday morning, a day after the Senate failed to pass an immigration bill that would have created a permanent solution for DACA. “Republicans are still working hard.”
It’s unclear whether Trump’s attempt to gaslight the public about who’s to blame for Congress’ inability to pass a DACA fix will work. But it is clear that he shoulders much of the blame for the Senate’s failure.
No one forced Trump to end DACA in the first place. He made the decision to end the program, announcing an arbitrary March 5 end date unless Congress acted sooner.
Then Trump continuously moved the goalpost on what kind of immigration bill he’d sign. In a meeting with a bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers on Jan. 9, Trump said he would sign anything Congress put on his desk.
“When this group comes back — hopefully with an agreement — this group and others from the Senate, from the House, comes back with an agreement, I’m signing it,” Trump said. “I mean, I will be signing it. I’m not going to say, ‘Oh, gee, I want this or I want that.’ I’ll be signing it, because I have a lot of confidence in the people in this room, that they’re going to come up with something really good.”
Trump then quickly changed his mind, ultimately demanding on Jan. 25 that any DACA fix included four immigration pillars, including massive cuts to legal immigrants allowed into the U.S.
The Senate came up with a bipartisan compromise this week that included some of those pillars, including funding for Trump’s border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. On Thursday, Trump threatened to veto it — helping kill that proposal in the Senate.
Ultimately, Trump’s four-pillar plan introduced by GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa did the worst among the four immigration proposals the Senate took up on Thursday. That four-pillar plan got just 39 votes — losing a number of GOP lawmakers and falling far short of a majority.
Given Congress’ failure to pass a DACA fix, It’s unclear what will happen to the roughly 800,000 DACA recipients currently allowed to work and attend school in the U.S.
But at the end of the day, it’s Trump who set DACA’s demise in motion. And it’s Trump who has helped throttle Congress’ effort to come up with a solution before the arbitrary deadline Trump set.