On a day-to-day basis, Donald Trump seems as unpredictable as the weather, but step back, and his modus operandi reveals patterns as predictable as the seasons. He’s constantly anti-immigrant. He constantly displays such pathetic and blustery leadership that almost no one in his administration believes a word he says. He constantly tries to turn the U.S. into as much of a bully as he is. And he constantly lies, blaming others for his own faults.
All of that was on display in the last two days.
On March 23, Trump signed the omnibus spending bill, after flip-flopping and threatening to veto it because it didn’t meet his (inconsistent) immigration demands. This is the bill Congress has repeatedly tried to pass and has previously failed to pass, largely because Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on a replacement for DACA, since Trump tied a DACA solution to funding for his border wall.
On March 22, Trump tweeted, “Got $1.6 billion to start Wall on Southern Border, rest will be forthcoming.” He seemed pleased that he had gotten what he’d asked for. Then, after Congress passed the bill at 1 a.m. on Friday, March 23, Trump did an about-face, tweeting:
The tweet came as a surprise to many, but it’s a sign of the times that politicians have so little respect for the President of the United States that they don’t take his B.S. statements seriously. “I think he might be bluffing,” one top GOP aide told CNN. Another aide thought Trump was having one of his typical tantrums. “But you just never know,” the Republican said.
For Trump to say he considered a veto because Democrats abandoned 800,000-plus DACA recipients would be laughable if it weren’t insulting. Trump is the one who terminated DACA, and he only cares about DREAMers insofar as he can use them as pawns to get his “big, beautiful wall.” So it was absolutely jaw-dropping when Trump said, during the press conference to announce he was signing the bill:
“I can tell you this, and I say this to DACA recipients, that the Republicans are with you. They want to get your situation taken care of. The Democrats fought us, they just fought every single inch of the way. They did not want DACA in this bill. And as you know, DACA is also tied to the wall, the $25 billion for wall and other things. So I think that will be coming up very soon. But I do want the Hispanic community to know, and DACA recipients to know that Republicans are much more on your side than the Democrats, who are using you for their own purposes.“
So what is on this $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill? No one knows entirely, as Trump admitted, since it consists of about an eight-inch-tall stack of papers that was only completed this morning. It includes, according to Trump, a record amount of military spending, including ramping up our nuclear arsenal – in line with Trump’s obsession with military might.
As for the border wall, it earmarks $445 million for 25 miles of levee fencing (solid concrete on the bottom, metal bars on top) and $196 million for an unspecified length of metal-bar wall in the Rio Grande Valley. It also devotes $696 million to replacing existing fencing in the San Diego area. So that’s nothing like the $25 billion he wants for hundreds of miles of solid, new wall.
While Trump wanted 1,000 more ICE agents, the bill gives him only about 100. But not surprisingly, the bill gives ICE money to increase the number of immigrants it keeps in detention: an average of 40,520 on any given day, up from the current number of 39,324. Trump also says the number of immigration judges will be expanded.