Bill Press

We’ve learned a lot about Donald Trump in the last seven months. He’s inept. Think repeal of Obamacare. He’s ignorant. Think withdrawal from Paris Accords. He’s clueless. Think sending 4,000 more troops to Afghanistan. He’s petty. Think firing James Comey.

But this week we learned something new about Donald Trump. He’s also cruel and cold-hearted. Think Dreamers. Outside the warped mind of openly racist Attorney General Jeff Sessions, there’s no justification for Trump’s decision to terminate the Dreamers program, or DACA, launched by President Obama five years ago.

Sessions, who led the opposition to the Dream Act in the Senate for 16 years, convinced Trump that DACA offered blanket amnesty and citizenship to people who’d broken the law – and that we had no choice but to throw those criminals out of the country. He’s dead wrong.

Citizenship was never part of the deal. All DACA did was allow young people, whose parents brought them to this country illegally when there were younger than 16, to apply for a work permit — which had to be renewed every two years. Meanwhile, under DACA, they could at least live, work, study, get a driver’s license or go to a clinic without the constant fear of deportation. Out of an estimated 1.2 million young people here illegally, some 800,000 have enrolled as Dreamers.

Who are they? They are college and graduate students. They’re doctors, nurses, construction workers, high-tech engineers and teachers. They pay taxes. Ninety percent of them have jobs. Many serve in the military. One of them, Alonso Guillen, drowned while volunteering to rescue victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Who are they? They are the best of America. They are the future of America. They are Americans in every respect but one: a piece of paper. They speak English. This is the only country they know. And, most importantly, they’re not law-breakers. They didn’t decide to come here illegally. Maybe their parents did, but the Dreamers have committed no crime.

Who are we? That’s the real question. Are we really a people who punish children for the sins of their parents? That violates every principle of American jurisprudence, not to mention the tenets of every major religion. Are we really dumb enough to deport 800,000 of our brightest, hardest-working, and most highly motivated young people? Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says, from a purely business perspective, that is insane.

Trump’s decision to terminate DACA is offensive not only for what he did, but for how he did it: wrapping the meanest of actions in the most pious of motives.

First, Trump argued he was forced to terminate the Dreamers program because 10 states were filing a lawsuit against it. So what? The answer to that is not “I surrender,” it’s “See you in court!” Now, instead of 10 states suing to oppose DACA, 15 states and the District of Columbia have sued to defend DACA. So what’s the point?

Second, according to the White House, Trump had to end DACA because he promised to do so, which is absurd. Last time I checked, there’s nothing in the Constitution requiring a president to fulfill every stupid promise made during a campaign. Besides, while Trump promised to end DACA, he also promised that Dreamers had nothing to worry about because he was only going after those who’d committed crimes. Which promise did he break?

Third, Trump insists he’s not really ending the program, he’s just asking Congress to make it official. Please. After Congress has wrestled unsuccessfully with the Dreamers Act for 16 years — they couldn’t even pass it when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress — the idea they’ll fix it in the next six months is ridiculous.

Fourth, Trump says his hands are tied. Dreamers may be fine young people, he says, but we have to enforce the law, which, again, is absurd. Remember, these kids themselves did not break any law. And Trump can’t talk about the rule of law after he just pardoned Joe Arpaio.

Finally, and most galling of all, Donald Trump can’t stop talking about how big-hearted he is, what compassion he has, and how much he loves the Dreamers. Liar, liar, pants on fire. Yeah, he loves them so much he wants to deport all 800,000 of them.

Trump didn’t even make the Dreamers announcement himself. He delegated it to Sessions. Donald Trump is not only cruel and cold-hearted, he’s also a coward.

Bill Press is host of a nationally syndicated radio show. He can be reached by email at bill@billpress.com.