Remember all the way back to Monday when Donald Trump was "digging in" and angrily trying to blame Democrats for his "zero tolerance" family separation policy that handed them a mountain range-sized quantity of public relations ammunition to use against him and the GOP? Remember how despite hurling his administration into the only kind of chaos he doesn't like (the kind he doesn't intentionally stir up) as his and his mouthpieces' messaging looked like a bedsheet backstop in a cherry fight, the White House insisted that the "zero-tolerance" policy would remain in place only with illegal alien kids not separated from their families?
Well, you don't need to remember it anymore because Chuck & Nancy's best friend has already retreated from that defense line in complete disarray:
Federal authorities will stop prosecuting parents who attempt to cross the border illegally with their children until Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) establishes adequate detention centers where families can be held together, the Washington Post reported Thursday.
The move marks a swift about-face from the executive order Donald Trump signed Wednesday, which indicated his administration would continue its “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting all individuals who cross the border illegally while establishing family-detention centers where families can be held while parents await their hearings.
“We’re suspending prosecutions of adults who are members of family units until ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) can accelerate resource capability to allow us to maintain custody,” a senior U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) official told the Post.
The unnamed official further explained that many adults and children currently in federal custody will be released due to the lack of adequate family-detention centers where they could be held together in compliance with Trump’s executive order.
Adult illegals without children will allegedly still be prosecuted, as if there's any chance that adult illegals will cross the border without at least one tyke in tow, regardless of whether the kid belongs to them or not. That border surge will become a Central American land tsunami for the rest of the summer until ICE constructs detention centers that everybody can agree are "adequate". A consensus that, as with every other point of contention in the Trump era, will probably be unreasonably difficult to reach.
If Trump's "new" immigration policy sounds an awful lot like his predecessor's "catch & release" policy, that's because it is:
The order declares that the Secretary of Homeland Security “shall, to the extent permitted by law . . . maintain custody of alien families during the pendency of any criminal improper entry or immigration proceedings involving their members.” Currently, the consent decree in Flores defines the “extent permitted by law.” In fact, the administration acknowledges this reality by expressly requiring Sessions to seek modification of the agreement:
"The Attorney General shall promptly file a request with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to modify the Settlement Agreement in Flores v. Sessions, CV 85-4544 (“Flores settlement”), in a manner that would permit the Secretary, under present resource constraints, to detain alien families together throughout the pendency of criminal proceedings for improper entry or any removal or other immigration proceedings."
In other words, the administration will comply with the law, and until it’s changed, that law is set by Flores. Trump is right back in the Obama box. He doesn’t want to separate families, but he can’t keep them together beyond twenty days. Thus, we’re back to catch-and-release.
Lotsa luck getting the federal court in the "bluest" State in the country that already ruled against the Trump Regime on this very issue to help them out on giving them a break on the settlement agreement. Lotsa luck as well getting the necessary legislation past the Democrat Senate filibuster that will undoubtedly be mounted against it to keep the White House in this public relations trap of its own making. Even gnawing off their own limbs - which is a pretty good metaphor for this latest executive diktat - will provide no means of escape from this faux embarrassment.
"Faux" because Trump's border hawkery has always been phony, the most fraudulent part of his con, going all the way back to his 2016 campaign and right into his accidental presidency. He's been way more "wobbly" on illegal immigration than John McCain or George W. Bush ever were. If the Kool-Aid he force-swilled his Redcap womp-wompers hadn't been off-the-scale-proof and laced with anencephalic properties, he'd be in even bigger political peril than he is already.
So, just to tally up the past week-to-date, the not-so-crypto-pro-amnesty president's contrived hardline border control policy was so incompetently handled it generated a public relations disaster so egregious that it provided more than sufficient cover for the leftward lurch he's always truly favored that surpasses the de facto amnesty bills Trumplicans are frantically trying to pass, which Trump pretend-threatened to veto a week ago, a bluff so empty his own White House contradicted within hours. Sorry for the long, run-on sentence, but that is how what passes for Trump's thought process works.
As for the flaming wreckage of his purported tough immigration policy, there is as little to salvage as there is for #Cult45 to substantively defend. Not that they're given to, or ever bother with or traffic in, substantive arguments. "Alternative facts," and all that. Which is why they're not bothering to try, but are instead trotting out their reflexive "whataboutism" by hyperventilatingly pointing out that Barack Obama's regime separated captured illegal alien children from their families, as though that somehow justifies or excuses Trump's administration doubling down on that optically abhorrent policy. They throw in their "FAKE NEWS!!!!!" reflex alongside it with accusations of media hypocrisy for hyping up the former and covering up the latter, as though it's some bombshell revelation that the media circles the wagons around Democrats and attacks even fake Republicans.
Here's the thing about that, though: Barack Obama is out of office (miraculously enough); Donald Trump is the current POTUS. Therefore, his blunders and misdeeds are primarily relevant for news coverage. No amount of finger-pointing and attempted buck-passing can change that.
Amazingly enough, this whataboutist urge is even snagging some of the stoutest NeverTrumpers and compromising their political acumen:
And so, given this pain, regardless of differences on the question of “catch and release” versus detention, we ought to at least agree that families should stay together, right? After all, this is an emergency. We’ve heard the wailing children. We’ve seen the heartbreaking images. Let’s stop this.
And, indeed, Congress is showing rare signs of life. As early as tomorrow, the House may vote on a broad immigration bill that includes language ending family separation. The Senate is focusing on a narrower bill. While no one credible is saying that Democrats should sign on, now, to every aspect of the various GOP plans, given the emergency — given the "Nazi" menace — you’d think they’d at least be signaling their intention to work with GOP colleagues on ending the present crisis and prohibiting future presidents from taking a child from his mother’s arms.
You’d think so, but you’d be wrong. Yesterday, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said this:
“There are so many obstacles to legislation and when the president can do it with his own pen, it makes no sense,” Schumer told reporters. “Legislation is not the way to go here when it’s so easy for the president to sign it.”
What? I’m sorry, but this is absurd. One the one hand, we’re told that the president is a moral monster who can’t be trusted. On the other hand, we’re now also being told that the branch of government designed to check and even override the president shouldn’t play a part in ending bad policy?
David French is usually so powerfully perceptive and perspicacious that his pernicious paucity of perception in this instance is plentifully perplexing. (Whaddaya want? I had to "p".) Chucky's comment is not absurd at all once you remember the context in which he uttered it and who and what he is. French's mistake is to think that the Senate Minority Leader has now or at any time in the past had any interest in working with or making compromises with Republicans, particularly in any situation in which he has a clear and present public relations advantage over his opponents. Now is just such a situation, and he is using it as a wedge issue to regain his party's stalled momentum in the 2018 midterm election campaign, in the hope that once Democrats are back in the majority on Capitol Hill, they can dictate their own immigration (and other) policy solutions to Trump (a not unreasonable expectation). Does Schumer care about separating illegal alien children from their parents? Mayhap he does, mayhap he doesn't; but he cares more about how their plight can be used to regain political power. French can't be unaware of this to where he expects intellectual integrity and consistency from a man and party who have never displayed such virtues, anymore than Trumpies can credibly complain about Schumer playing the exact same kind of political hardball that they spent years demanding of John Boehner, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell.
Nobody should expect the Democrats to come to Amnesty Don's rescue and bail him out via "signaling their intention to work with GOP colleagues on ending the present crisis." Crises, after all, are things that Democrats never let go to waste, because they enable them to do things they could not otherwise do. And that's on top of all the things Donald Trump's bumbling treacheries have already gifted to them. He really is the feckless gift that keeps on blitheringly giving.