As news circulated that President Trump is nearing a deal with Democratic leaders to project DREAMers from deportation on Thursday morning, Trump wondered how anybody could’ve ever supported deporting hundreds of thousands of people who were brought to the country as children and are almost all working or in school.
Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 14, 2017
Trump has apparently forgotten that deporting DACA recipients was one of his signature campaign promises.
During an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd conducted two months after he launched his campaign, Trump said DACA recipients “have to go.”
“Chuck, we either have a country, or we don’t have a country,” Trump said, after Todd rightfully objected that deporting DACA recipients would split up families.
A few months later, Trump told Fox News’s Sean Hannity that “[Obama’s] horrible order that he signed on illegal immigration, where people are just flowing into the country, horribly, without any checks or balances — we don’t even know who’s coming in. That would be ended immediately.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 20, 2016
That Trump has changed his mind about DACA recipients wasn’t the only thing his supporters were upset about on Thursday. As part of the DACA deal, Democratic leaders have agreed to support border security funding that does not include funds for a border wall. Trump acknowledged as much in another tweet posted Thursday in which he insisted that the wall lives on “in the form of new renovation of old and existing fences and walls.”
The WALL, which is already under construction in the form of new renovation of old and existing fences and walls, will continue to be built.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 14, 2017
“Renovation of old and existing fences and walls” is not, however, what Trump promised his supporters during the campaign, when one of his signature pledges was that Mexico would pay the entire cost of a “great wall” that some experts thought could cost upwards of $20 billion.
During the speech in which he launched his candidacy in June 2015, Trump said, “I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me — and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”
Then, during a town hall hosted by Sean Hannity in February 2016, Trump said, “we’re going to build a wall and it’s going to be a serious wall.” He urged listeners to “just remember — and you remember I said it. Mexico is going to pay for the wall.”
“If I’m wrong about this, you’re going to all come back, have another meeting and I’ll apologize to you, okay?” Trump added. “It’s going to be a serious wall, it’s going to be a great wall — it’s not going to be a wall that they just climb up.”
During the campaign, the wall was frequently getting “ten feet higher” https://t.co/ZZR2uD8RFi
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) September 14, 2017
As recently as this July, Trump insisted that Mexico would “absolutely” pay for the wall during a news conference in which Mexican President Peña Nieto was sitting next to him. But a subsequently leaked transcript of a call Trump had with Nieto in January revealed that Trump viewed the wall as a political necessity instead of a national security one.
During that January 27 conversation, Trump characterized the wall as “the least important thing that we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important [thing we] talk about.”
Indeed, the downward trend in illegal border crossings that began during the Clinton administration continues, wall or no wall. Border agents have told reporters they don’t think the type of physical wall Trump has long supported is necessary for national security, and instead want better equipment and technology.
When Nieto told Trump his government has no interest in helping him fulfill his campaign promise by paying for a wall, Trump said he understood but couldn’t say so publicly, and urged Nieto to do the same.
“You cannot say anymore that the United States is going to pay for the wall,” Trump told Nieto. “I am just going to say that we are working it out.”
Now, however, Trump is trying to sell his supporters on something else entirely.
Trump, about to take off to Florida, on DACA: “We’re working on a plan,” Ryan/McConnell “very much on board.” “The wall will come later.” pic.twitter.com/CwPzeozU6C
— Tom Namako (@TomNamako) September 14, 2017
News that Trump is caving on deporting DACA recipients has sparked a backlash from his supporters in the media — such as former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who’s now back at Breitbart — and among immigration hard-liners in Congress like Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who has previous argued for cutting food stamp to pay for the wall.
“This a betrayal of the highest order. Donald Trump should be ashamed of himself.” A Breitbart editor tonight, via phone
— Robert Costa (@costareports) September 14, 2017
Breitbart is lit. up. this morning pic.twitter.com/QHWEKVn02r
— Christopher Ingraham (@_cingraham) September 14, 2017
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) September 14, 2017
The deal also represents a betrayal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions — an immigration hard-liner who held a news conference earlier this month announcing Trump’s decision to end DACA — and White House policy adviser Stephen Miller, who has pushed for immigration policies that give English speakers preferred status.