Conservatives Fume Over DACA Deal As Trump Tries To Mollify His Base

NPR News Politics 12 months ago

Conservatives are livid after President Trump appears to have made a deal with Democrats in order to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program — claiming he's abandoning his base and the stringent immigration platform he campaigned on.

Commentator Ann Coulter went on a Twitter tirade Thursday, furious that the president appeared to be reneging on his trademark border wall. "Put a fork in Trump, he's dead," the outspoken author and once-fervent Trump ally wrote. "At this point, who DOESN'T want Trump impeached?" And, "If we're not getting a wall, I'd prefer President Pence," she added.

To Coulter and others, Trump's ultimate betrayal came after he met with Democratic congressional leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to try to save the so-called DREAMers who now face the possibility of deportation after Trump's decision last week to rescind the program put in place by his predecessor, former President Obama.

Democrats on Wednesday night said the deal they made with Trump didn't include funding for Trump's border wall. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders soon tweeted that "excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to." However, the president himself seemed to contradict that on Thursday when told reporters that "the wall will come later," but insisted it wasn't being abandoned altogether.

Trump underscored that the roughly 800,000 people who would be affected were brought here as children through "no fault of their own." But one of the bills pushed by Democrats would allow a path for citizenship for those affected — something overwhelmingly opposed by the president's base. And the fact that DACA was being taken up before anything to address the border wall or border security also inflamed the right wing.

Amid the backlash, Trump insisted to reporters, "We're not looking at citizenship. We're not looking at amnesty. We're looking at allowing people to stay here."

Ultimately, the specter of a deal on immigration with "Chuck and Nancy" — after caving last week on the debt ceiling and government funding, over the objections of GOP congressional leaders — seemed to be the final straw for many.

"This is not what we voted for," conservative radio host Laura Ingraham said on her program. "We voted for someone who could do a good deal for the American man and woman."

One of Ingraham's callers, Michael from Georgia, lamented that Trump had "duped us."

"That swamp he was gonna drain... he has jumped into that swamp," the caller argued.

A caller from Arizona named Jody told Ingraham she was suffering from PTSD — "Pelosi Trump Schumer Disorder. I am done if they don't build the wall."

Late Wednesday night after news of the deal broke, Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity seemed to suggest Trump had been duped by Pelosi and Schumer, but that if he capitulated, it would be "over" for him.

Breitbart News's website — run by Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon — blasted out headlines like "Trump Caves on DACA, Wants 'Quick' Amnesty for 800K Illegal Aliens" and "Families of Illegal Alien Murder Victims Confused, Angered by Possible DACA Deal." It also highlighted a trending topic on Twitter: #AmnestyDon.

On Breitbart's daily Sirius XM show, Tea Party Patriots leader Jenny Beth Martin said that if a deal does go through, Trump is no different than his despised former rival.

"We voted for Donald Trump because we wanted something different than what Hillary Clinton was gonna give this country... and the deal that we heard coming out of the White House... it's what we would expect Hillary Clinton to give us," Martin said.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, one of the most outspoken anti-immigration members of Congress, immediately blasted the reports of a deal on DACA on Twitter Wednesday night, saying if it was true the president had lost all credibility.

Later on Thursday, King told NPR that if there were deal, it would be a total rebuke to his base.

"I know the people that were strong Trump supporters, that were on his bandwagon early on. They came on board because, build a wall, enforce the border, enforce immigration law, no amnesty ever. And if they see amnesty coming out of the White House, then that's the one thing that will crack his base," King said. "They are loyal Trump supporters, but the most important plank in that platform is the rule of law. And if that's blown up here in these negotiations, whether that's his intent or not, then they're not going to have a leg to stand on when they press others to defend our president."

Other Republicans urged caution, and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., underscored that there was no agreement yet on DACA.

"He's kept his promises on the campaign trail. I have no reason to doubt that he's not going to [keep his promises on immigration]. I do understand that he's very frustrated in how things are not getting done. Hence he's talking with the Democrats," said Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., who's running for Senate.

However, Barletta said, it was understandable Trump wanted to work with Democrats on the issue.

"But what's he supposed to do if he can't get anything done here? He didn't come here to do nothing. He came here to keep his promises. He's a businessman, and that's what he's going to do. I'm going to say this: We're going to get a better deal if Republicans can pull it together."

"I want to stress that based on my conversations with well-informed people, I think there is no agreement," said Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., the leader of a group of the House's most conservative Republicans called the House Freedom Caucus. "I do think the president is making real strides to address something in a way that will have legislative support. But to suggest that everything is done when the conversations have just started would not be accurate."

While other talk radio hosts like Ingraham were incensed, conservative provocateur Rush Limbaugh was at least willing to give Trump the benefit of the doubt — and said it was the media that was trying to sow seeds of discord over immigration.

"They want you to think Trump has sold you out and thrown you under the bus. They want you to think Trump has given away his mandate in exchange for doing deals," said Limbaugh.

And to cap off a day in which he'd made shifting statements and tweets over the proposed DACA deal, Trump's campaign sent out a message from the president himself with the subject line "LET ME BE CLEAR" trying to calm the waters.

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