President Trump could have had his wall. In early 2018, Democrats offered to appropriate funding for a border wall — not just some funding, the full $25 billion — if the president would agree to provide a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living in the United States as part of President Obama’s DACA program. Trump had said previously that he supported a pathway to citizenship for “dreamers,” but ultimately rejected the deal because it didn’t also include restrictions on legal immigration.
In other words, the border wall itself wasn’t quite bigoted enough for the Trump administration, particularly its chief immigration policy architect, Stephen Miller.
But Stephen Miller persuaded the boss: no deal. https://t.co/RqhV2CQQwK
— Evan Pérez (@evanperez) January 26, 2019
A few months after helping scuttle the deal that would have funded the wall, Miller spearheaded the policy that resulted in the separation of thousands of families at the southern border. Most of those families were not criminals; they were refugees seeking asylum, a right recognized by the United States. According to Team of Vipers, a new tell-all book from former White House staffer Cliff Sims, Miller isn’t a fan of the nation’s legacy of aiding distressed foreign nationals. Excerpts published by The Atlantic on Monday describe an exchange between Sims and Miller when the former approached the latter out of concern that the administration wasn’t doing more to help refugees, particularly persecuted Christians. “I would be happy if not a single refugee foot ever again touched America’s soil,” Miller said, according to the book.
Shortly after the excerpts were published, Politico reported that Trump is “very pissed off” and “really hopping mad” about the book.
Miller’s gambit to hold out for a more racist bill to overhaul America’s immigration system hasn’t panned out very well. Democrats are now in control of the House of Representatives, and it doesn’t appear that Trump will be able to secure the $5.7 billion he’s demanding, much less $25 billion. Earlier this month, the president proposed a “compromise” that would have included limited protections for DACA recipients in exchange for wall funding, but it was swiftly rejected by House Democrats. Unable to strike a deal and lacking leverage, Trump on Friday signed a continuing resolution to re-open the government for three weeks. The resolution was nearly identical to the one he refused to sign — and which the Senate passed unanimously — a little over a month earlier, leading to the longest government shutdown in the nation’s history.
The continuing resolution re-opened the government, but it’s unlikely to lead to progress striking a deal. Democrats are steadfast in their refusal to appropriate money toward a wall, and the White House seems just as determined to reject any deal that does not include funding for one. The same day Trump announced he would sign the resolution, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made the administration’s position clear. “In 21 days President @realDonaldTrump is moving forward building the wall with or without Democrats,” she wrote. “The only outstanding question is whether the Democrats want something or nothing.”
In 21 days President @realDonaldTrump is moving forward building the wall with or without the Democrats. The only outstanding question is whether the Democrats want something or nothing https://t.co/dMaDfBOIuT
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) January 26, 2019
The only logical endpoint, politically, is for Trump to declare a national emergency, which would theoretically allow him to cobble together funding already allocated to other government programs. While he was considering doing so earlier this month, it was reported that the White House put together a plan that would pull money from the Army Corps of Engineers that would have been used to provide disaster relief to those in suffering from the aftermath of the hurricanes that hit Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico in the fall of 2017, as well as those affected by the wildfires that ravaged California last summer. Seeing as there is no actual national emergency, such a declaration would certainly be challenged in court, where it would probably go down in flames.
Then again, it’s possible that Miller and Trump turned down a more-than-reasonable deal to build the wall and waited to press the issue until Democrats took control of the House because they’re strategic geniuses beyond anyone else’s comprehension.
Either that or they’re so racist they can’t think straight.