THE MORNING PLUM:
One of the most cherished narratives that Donald Trump used to scam voters into electing him president is the notion that Barack Obama lawlessly allowed huge swarms of parasitic undocumented immigrants into the country to leach off public benefits and steal the jobs of ordinary Americans.
So here’s an immediate question: Will Trump make good on his promise to revoke protections for the hundreds of thousands of young people currently working and living in the United States who were brought here by their parents illegally as children?
Trump has repeatedly pledged to cancel all of Obama’s executive actions right away as president. That includes a promise to scrap Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which grants work permits and temporary reprieve from deportation to the DREAMers. Obama’s executive deportation relief has been widely denounced by Republicans for years, and Trump’s immigration plan vows to “immediately terminate” DACA, describing it as an “illegal amnesty.”
It will be fully within Trump’s power to act on this promise on Day One of his presidency, immigration lawyer David Leopold tells me. Because DACA was granted by executive action, it is subject to revocation at the discretion of the president — or any of his successors. (Obama’s effort to expand this protection to other classes was halted by the courts, but DACA remains in force.) If Trump cancels DACA on Day One, Leopold says, it would revoke the work permits of its beneficiaries in short order and leave them subject to deportation.
“Many of these people are young, just starting out, and heavily invested in participating openly in the American system,” Leopold says.
This could have a disruptive impact on hundreds of thousands of people, as well as their families and communities — whether or not they end up getting deported in the future. After vowing mass deportations throughout the primaries, Trump modified this plan during the general election, promising to deport only the criminals first. But Trump’s modified plan would create no meaningful path to long-term legal status and would leave undocumented immigrants targets for deportation at some unspecified later date. Revoking protection for the DREAMers would raise the prospect of them getting deported later, but much more immediately, the revocation of work permits would effectively drive them underground in the short term.
Immigration advocates are already organizing to fight Trump, should he make good on this and other promises. “There’s no way these young people are going to walk quietly back into the shadows,” Leopold says.
Many of the DREAMers are sympathetic figures. They are an organized and skillful political force. It is likely that few Americans associate them with the image Trump regularly invokes of undocumented immigrants as parasitic or criminal elements. Many are culturally American and fully fluent in accent-less English, having arrived at a young age and having lived good chunks of their lives here. DACA permitted many of them to integrate themselves deeply into American life by getting jobs on the books, which in turn allowed some to more fully develop skills or utilize their educations.
If their work permits are revoked, you can expect sympathetic national media profiles of the victims, which will feature them declaring that their only desire is to work hard and remain productive, contributing members of American society. This would be one of the first big stories of the Trump presidency.
The question is whether other Republicans will want this story to unfold. Congressional Republicans have voted to defund DACA in the past. But they did so secure in the knowledge that they could rail angrily at Obama’s lawless amnesty without facing the political consequences of actually ending it, because they knew Obama would never allow that to happen.
But now President Trump can end DACA himself with the stroke of a pen, and produce all of those consequences right away. If Trump does not go through with this, he may be castigated by immigration hardliners for breaking a promise on an issue that appears to have been central to his appeal to the “forgotten men and women” who elected him and make up Donald Trump’s America. If he does go through with it, we will be provided with an early and vivid illustration of what the xenophobic promises Trump made to His America actually mean in the real world.
* TRUMP WILL REVERSE OBAMA’S EXECUTIVE ACTIONS: Politico reports that Trump is poised to reverse Obama executive actions in areas beyond immigration:
On the chopping block will be regulations to address climate change (which he’s labeled a Chinese hoax); to implement Obamacare (“a disaster”); and to rein in Wall Street (“We’re too involved in regulation of the banks”). Gone, too will be President Barack Obama’s executive actions protecting the children of undocumented immigrants.
Another key question will be whether Trump is really able to reverse Obama’s Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions.
* COALITION OF WHITE VOTERS DROVE TRUMP WIN: The New York Times offers a deep dive into the coalition of white voters that enabled Trump to prevail, one that is unlike one enjoyed by any other candidate:
Mr. Trump’s coalition comprised…millions of voters in the onetime heartlands of 20th-century liberal populism — the Upper and Lower Midwest — where white Americans without a college degree voted decisively to reject the more diverse, educated and cosmopolitan Democratic Party of the 21st century Most strikingly, Mr. Trump won his biggest margins among middle-income white voters, according to exit polls, a revolt not only of the white working class but of the country’s vast white middle class.
Meanwhile, a combination of voter suppression and the lack of a sizable enough win among Latinos kept Clinton’s coalition from overcoming Trump’s.
* TRUMP WILL LEAVE THE DETAILS TO PAUL RYAN: NBC News reports that some Republicans expect Trump to allow Paul Ryan to set a fair amount of the GOP’s governing agenda. One leading Congressional supporter of Trump says the president-elect regularly tells Ryan this: “You drive the legislative agenda, I’ll drive the vision and we’ll work together and get this done.”
One imagines that Trump is likely to sign whatever budgets Ryan sends him, even if they cut entitlements, regardless of what Trump has said about protecting them in the past.
* CHUCK SCHUMER’S TOUGH BALANCING ACT: CNN reports on an interesting dynamic to keep an eye on:
For Schumer, the challenges will be formidable. He’ll have to listen to the vocal and outspoken progressive wing of his caucus, led by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who have legions of supporters. But he also has five red-state Democrats in states Trump won convincingly — Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia — up for re-election in 2018. And if Schumer takes his caucus too far to the left, he’s bound to could put his moderates in a difficult political spot.
Worth watching: Whether those red state Democrats claim the party has moved too far to “the left” when it resists Trump’s agenda.
* BEWARE THIS ARGUMENT AMONG DEMOCRATS: With the conversations beginning about the lessons the Democratic Party needs to take from their loss, E.J. Dionne makes a key point:
If the past is any guide, more moderate Democrats will talk about how, perhaps, the country was asked to accept too much cultural change too quickly, or that whites, especially white men, were exhausted from having every other group lifted up except themselves. I fear that this argument will tear apart those who must now stand together.
You can definitely expect that argument from some quarters: the Democrats lost because they were too aggressive in condemning Trump’s bigotry and xenophobia.
* AND TRUMP TEAM SAW CLINTON AS ‘PERFECT FOIL’: Bloomberg Businessweek looks at the Trump electorate and concludes it was driven in part by rage at Washington elites:
“Hillary Clinton was the perfect foil for Trump’s message,” says Steve Bannon, his campaign chief executive officer. “From her e-mail server, to her lavishly paid speeches to Wall Street bankers, to her FBI problems, she represented everything that middle-class Americans had had enough of.”
Whatever Clinton’s very real flaws as a candidate, it was awfully helpful to Trump that major media organizations chose to relentlessly hype the visibility and significance of all those things.