The president pulled an “All Lives Matter” on DREAMers.
Donald Trump’s first State of the Union was, for the most part, scripted and sedate. At times, he almost looked bored with himself. But when he talked about immigration — the issue at the core of his political career — he was having fun.
He clearly enjoyed ad-libbing about the monstrousness of MS-13 and the heroism of American law enforcement officers who fought them by being “tougher” (complete with an inexplicable and unverifiable claim about putting “thousands and thousands and thousands” of MS-13 members in prison or on deportation flights). He enjoyed giving his spiel about how the diversity visa lottery randomly selects immigrants, and about how “chain migration” allows immigrants to bring “virtually unlimited” numbers of family members to the US. Neither of those claims are true, but both have become Trump standbys in recent months.
And he even enjoyed tying all of this together to make the case for Congress to turn the immigration framework his White House presented last week into a bill, addressing border security, restrictions on family-based immigration and the diversity visa, in exchange for allowing 1.8 million young unauthorized immigrants to get legal status and eventually US citizenship.
But he never actually addressed why Congress is discussing immigration to begin with, or why it includes the legalization proposal. He never mentioned the fact that Trump himself ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in September, winding down deportation protections and work permits for 690,000 unauthorized immigrants who came to the US as children — and put Congress on a six-month timer to address the fate of those unauthorized immigrants and their peers.