While conservatives are busy focusing on everything except for policy substance, they might want to engage in some introspection about the end game of our most important policy outcomes. Unless conservatives start demanding that Trump countermand some of his betrayals, the 36 percent approval rating we are incurring will be for nothing.
Shockingly, few conservative media outlets even bothered to notice, much less raise hell over, Trump’s executive amnesty. While it has already become clear that Trump has continued Obama’s illegal executive amnesty, granting 125,000 DACA cards in just the first three months of his presidency, on Friday he announced a permanent amnesty. Worse, the announcement was extremely deceptive, designed to distract conservatives from the real issue, a dynamic that has become the hallmark of this administration.
Continuing Obama’s Amnesty; ending an amnesty that never took effect
The lead headline of Trump’s action on Friday was that his DHS terminated the “DAPA” amnesty. The few conservative outlets that weren’t focused on the Russia/Comey/Mueller investigation hailed this as a great achievement. Here’s the problem, though: DAPA never took effect because it was halted by the Fifth Circuit. It’s a red herring that was never in contention. What was implemented, however, was the DACA amnesty. And on that account, the Trump administration actually announced another extension of the patently unconstitutional program and illegal usurpation of American sovereignty.
John Kasich, perhaps the most liberal elected Republican outside Washington, planted a giant wet kiss on the cheek of his former opponent:
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) June 16, 2017
Remember, the Trump amnesty includes new enrollees and renewals. This is to the left of Marco Rubio’s stated position in January, which was to deny renewals but not to strip cards out of the hands of those who already received them.
This is part of a growing pattern where the administration engages in tough rhetoric or skillful photo ops to distract conservatives, while the policy outcomes are the exact opposite of what Trump voters think they are getting. The ACLU put it best when responding to the “religious liberty executive order”: “Today’s executive order signing was an elaborate photo-op with no discernible policy outcome.” We saw this dynamic on display last week when, on the one hand, Trump talked tough on Qatar, but, on the other hand, the administration continued to sell the country weapons, with Tillerson making nice with the terror-exporting nation.
Undermining Trump’s entire campaign promise
We have already chronicled five reasons why this is a colossal betrayal and unforgivable if left unchanged. Most importantly, it is unconstitutional and can be terminated by a mere inaction. On April 23, 2013, Judge Reed O’Connor, a district judge being considered for a promotion to the Fifth Circuit by Trump’s legal advisers, ruled that the Obama administration’s DACA program was a clear violation of Section 1225(b)(2)(A) of the INA, which requires ICE agents to place all illegal aliens into removal proceedings. However, unlike the lawsuit against DAPA, this case was eventually dismissed for lack of standing. Thus, it took effect and resulted in hundreds of thousands of Social Security cards being given to illegal aliens. How can Trump continue this for even one day? Either we believe in the Constitution or not. Or as Trump used to say, we are either a country or not.
Furthermore, Trump’s newfound obsessions with “dreamers” (what happened to American dreamers?) is undermining his own stated goal to deport even criminal aliens. The crazy courts are beginning to codify Obama’s amnesty into law as if it were a statute. They are now issuing judicial amnesty and blocking deportation of anyone they don’t believe has a sufficient criminal record to warrant deportation under Obama’s amnesty. Just last week, a federal judge in Georgia invalidated the deportation of a “dreamer” who lied to a police officer, noting that such a crime does not rise to the level of a felony. While this in itself is an egregious act of judicially stolen sovereignty that must be rectified by Congress with judicial reform, it is inexcusable that the Trump administration would keep the broader policy in place for the courts to treat as law.
Rather than fighting back against the courts, who laid waste to his own immigration order, Trump’s DHS secretary called on Congress to pass permanent amnesty for the so-called “dreamers.”
This is a betrayal of Trump’s very own political foundation. Nothing electrified the conservative base and united them behind Trump’s candidacy more than his complete rejection of the elitist view of immigration and the prioritization of amnesty over sovereignty. It can be argued that Trump’s campaign didn’t really take off beyond 25 percent of the primary vote until he adopted our positions on immigration. Trump best articulated the absurdity of “Dream amnesty” in his seminal immigration speech in Phoenix on August 31, 2016:
When politicians talk about immigration reform, they usually mean the following, amnesty, open borders, lower wages. Immigration reform should mean something else entirely. It should mean improvements to our laws and policies to make life better for American citizens.
The truth is, the central issue is not the needs of the 11 million illegal immigrants… Anyone who tells you that the core issue is the needs of those living here illegally has simply spent too much time in Washington… There is only one core issue in the immigration debate, and that issue is the well-being of the American people.
Sadly, that very state of Arizona is now being forced by the Ninth Circuit to grant driver’s licenses to illegals, thanks to Trump’s amnesty.
Conservatives need to wake up and smell the stench of the betrayals instead of getting distracted by meaningless rhetoric or ceremonial actions. Between signing a bill defunding the border wall and funding refugees (and even the new budget proposal funds refugees and barely funds the wall), there is a clear pattern here. Toss in not repealing Obamacare, not terminating the Iran deal, phony promises on religious liberty, the Saudi deal, failing to move the Israel embassy, the budget betrayal, and the impending debt ceiling cave, and we’ve got a major problem here.
The common denominator in all these issues is that Trump doesn’t understand policy outcomes and political leverage points that will turn his campaign rhetoric into reality. In addition, all the people around him – from cabinet members such as Mnuchin, Mattis, Tillerson, and Kelly to advisors such as McMaster, Cohn, Powell, and Jared – do not share our values. Unless conservatives speak out strongly and grab the president by the shirt collar, there is only one direction in which the inertia will pull him.
As we kick of the new week, conservatives have an important choice to make: We can continue to focus exclusively on Comey and Mueller, or we can actually secure the policy outcomes that will make defending Trump’s scandals worthwhile in the first place.
Over the years, the number of voices within conservative media have multiplied. The good news is that many of them command the attention of President Trump. With control of all three branches, conservatives should have a list of policy dos and don’ts for Trump and Republicans at the beginning of every week. Yet, as a movement, all we stand for is “not the Democrats and the media.” Tragically, and quite ironically, by standing for nothing more than fighting the media, we are getting the very policy outcomes supported by that same media. And conservatives don’t seem to care.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.