As yet another sign of his dictatorial leanings, President Trump reportedly wanted to use executive orders to completely rewrite the entire system of immigration in this country, circumventing Congress to make all those decisions alone. Were it not for his aides working very hard to convince him that such an act would be wildly unconstitutional, Trump apparently would have gone ahead with it.
That this President of the United States thinks such unilateral action would be acceptable, that he doesn’t know enough or bother to know enough about the system of checks and balances in our democracy which are meant to keep someone from having run away power, speaks volumes about Trump’s ignorance about the office he holds, as well as his arrogance in assuming that he can completely redo an entire immigration system on his own. The report of Trump’s interest in reforming the immigration system all on his own first emerged in the Washington Post. According to The Hill:
President Trump indicated to aides this week that he wanted to reform America’s entire immigration system through executive order after deciding Wednesday to sign an order ending the process of separating families for prosecution for illegal entry. The Washington Post reports that Trump made the remarks to senior aides, who pushed back at what one official told the Post was a “pretty insane idea.” Discouraged by aides who insisted that such a broad rewrite of the immigration system via executive fiat would be unconstitutional, Trump then demanded aides produce an executive order to curb public discontent with the family separation policy, which he then signed later Wednesday.
The executive order that Trump did sign was, of necessity, hastily put together. There was not much time between Trump asking that the order be written and when Trump wanted it on his desk. As a consequence, there has been a lot of confusion in and between government agencies about proceeding. Some initially interpreted the order as an end to prosecuting people with families, some viewed it as permission to hold children with their parents indefinitely (which is illegal currently), and the order provided no guidelines for reuniting children already separated from their parents back with those parents. Still without a real reunification plan in place, the Trump administration has said that the full 2300+ children separated from their parents will have been reunited by tomorrow (Sunday), but we shall have to see if it does indeed happen. The Washington Post outlined some of this confusion that came out of Trump’s hastily constructed order:
The White House’s hastily crafted executive order to end child separations spurred confusion and fights within the federal government, and second-guessing from the president who had demanded the order in the first place…At Customs and Border Protection (CBP), officials viewed Trump’s order as instructing them to no longer refer to the Justice Department for prosecution the cases of adults illegally entering the United States with children, according to people familiar with the discussions. That interpretation was relayed to CBP personnel along the southern border, and dozens of people who had been apprehended and sent to federal court for processing were suddenly removed from courthouses without criminal charges being filed against them…Within the Justice Department, which prosecutes such cases, officials believed the executive order paved the way for parents to be held with their children for as long as necessary to resolve their cases, these people said…After CBP officials said there would be no referrals to the Justice Department of adults with children caught crossing the border, Justice Department officials became irate because that was not how they understood the policy, according to people familiar with the matter…Trump, for his part, has ruminated to aides that he should not have signed the order in the first place, according to people familiar with the conversations.
This sort of mess seems to follow Trump’s every move, and is the result of his impulsiveness, his callousness, his ignorance, and his unwillingness to admit when he doesn’t know something. Trump didn’t think through his original policy of separating children from their parents to see its inevitable negative reception from the public. Trump made up lie after lie after lie about his policy being a law instead of his policy and Democrats somehow being to blame. Then, when Trump finally backed down to stop the separations, he didn’t admit fault and had a hastily drawn order created that didn’t account for reuniting families already separated and led to an enormous amount of confusion among the agencies in charge of acting on Trump’s executive order. Chaos. Carelessness. Sloppiness. Ignorance. Incompetence. On a subject that is as serious as you can get – the suffering of children.
Add to Trump’s chaos and incompetence that reportedly he in his arrogance believed that he, all on his own, could and should completely rewrite the immigration system in this country, as if he were a dictator who could make unilateral decisions with no checks or balances on his power. That unlimited power does seem to be Trump’s dream, but we must see that somehow he is forced to remain within the power confines of democracy and to remain accountable within the legal system as well.