During a campaign rally in Iowa in January, 2016, Donald Trump famously bragged “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” The first months of his presidency proved that to be mostly true—88% of people who voted for Trump think he’s doing a good job, a recent poll found.
That was before Trump worked out a deal with top Democrats to let an estimated 800,000 “Dreamers,” or individuals brought to the US illegally as children, stay in the country. Trump hammered out an agreement with Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, last night (Sept. 13) over Chinese food, which would protect the Dreamers by making the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) order issued by former president Barack Obama a new law.
There is some confusion about what, exactly, has been agreed to. Democrats say the deal is to make DACA a law quickly, “and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides.” The White House said “While DACA and border security were both discussed, excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to.” Any legislation would need to pass both houses of the Republican-controlled Congress.
The very thought of giving Dreamers a path to legality has shocked some of Trump’s most ardent supporters, the media, and commenters in influential right-wing chat rooms. Steve King, the Iowa congressman who claims white people contributed more to civilization than any other race, warned that if the deal is as the Democrats described, Trump’s base is going to be “destroyed.”
Breitbart News, the anti-immigrant website run by former Trump advisor Steve Bannon, nicknamed the president “Amnesty Don:”
On The Donald, the Reddit forum closely linked to the rise of Trump that has spawned some its most viral—and most disturbing—nationalist memes, some authors were apoplectic, others confused. Many complained about “amnesty” for illegal immigrants.
“Like I get the debt ceiling deal, but Amnesty is non negotiable voters will bolt and skip out the election giving the GOP a massive defeat,” wrote Bloodylaser. “I really don’t see how this is 4D or 5D chess. I’m just disappointed at the moment,” wrote another user, who called on Trump to make a statement immediately to clarify the situation.
Loyal Trump supporter and Fox News personality Sean Hannity warned that the president needs to “keep his promises or it’s over.” Even Ann Coulter, the far-right talking head who wrote In Trump We Trust, tweeted ”At this point, who DOESN’T want Trump impeached?”
Today (Sept. 14), Trump took to Twitter, saying “no deal” had been made on DACA, that “massive border security” would need to come with it, and that it would be subject to a vote. He then went on to praise Dreamers, saying “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!…..”
Whether the DACA program is actually made into law depends heavily on key Republicans. Less than two weeks ago, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell praised Trump for rescinding the DACA program, saying he had fixed a “fundamental mistake” made by Obama. McConnell has changed his mind, Trump told reporters this morning.
McConnell’s office said Thursday morning that DACA “should be part of” any discussion on illegal discrimination, and that he welcomes the president’s legislative proposal.