The recent announcement that President Donald Trump was close to a deal with Democratic leaders to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program might seem like a shock.
DACA is the program instituted by executive order under President Barack Obama, shielding roughly 800,000 people who were brought here as minors by illegal immigrants from deportation.
Trump campaigned on building a continuous wall across the entire border with Mexico, deporting all illegal immigrants and mentioned a repeal of DACA as being a major priority.
In fact, just a few weeks earlier his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, announced that DACA would be phased out.
Why would he betray his most loyal supporters?
To the person who knows Trump’s history, however, this move is not surprising.
After all, Trump has changed his party registration nearly a half-dozen times, ran for president in 2000 as a member of Ross Perot’s Reform Party on a pro-universal healthcare platform, and even tweeted that Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012 was due to his “mean-spirited” immigration stance.
The only issue Trump has even been kind of consistent on is his opposition to free trade, and even that has wavered at times.
The fact that hardline immigration restrictionists like Ann Coulter put enough faith in this person to trust them completely, with Coulter even writing an entire book, “In Trump We Trust,” backing him on his immigration policies, was an act of desperation on their part, one that is clearly having massive downsides for both them and the country.
For Conservatives like myself, DACA might not have been constitutionally sound as an executive order, but it was a good– and popular– policy.
A recent Politico poll found that 75 percent of Americans, including 69 percent of Republicans, supported allowing the DACA recipients to stay.
The reality is, even in his own party Trump would have been nearly alone on this issue.
It also helps that Trump has existing relationships with both House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Schumer is a fellow New Yorker to Trump and someone Trump and his family have donated to in the past.
I won’t deny I felt a bit of schadenfreude when I saw the news. After all, it was clear Trump was a charlatan the moment I saw him, and the idea so many others trusted him seemed crazy to me.
What should be concerning for Conservatives is that Trump’s famed negotiating skills did not seem to show up here.
I heard from many Conservatives that Trump didn’t really mean his hard-line stances, it was just an opening line in a negotiation.
If that is the case, I’d expect him to actually garner concessions on the issue he supposedly cares about rather than cede basically everything to the other side.
There is no denying immigration is in need of a comprehensive reform.
Efforts in the past, from President George W. Bush’s proposed comprehensive immigration reform, proposed in the wake of an election where he performed remarkably well among Hispanics, to 2013’s Gang of Eight Bill, have been met with sharp criticism and inevitable failure.
DACA passed in and of itself does nothing to help change the future of immigration.
Unfortunately, with a Trump presidency comprehensive reform seems unlikely, which means issues like visa overstays, border security, work visas and the difficulty of legal immigration will be kicked further down the road.
Even with the news of a possible legislative solution to DACA, the Trump administration has faced issues with regards to its earlier announcement it would end DACA.
The NAACP just announced a lawsuit against the administration over the earlier DACA repeal and Congress seems to be in no rush to figure out a solution.
There is little doubt that the Trump administration’s handling of DACA has pleased few, if any, and given just how important the issue of DACA and immigration is, whether you support or oppose it, the American people deserve better.
Of course, there is still hope for the future. Perhaps next time, rather than nominating a political chameleon, Republicans might choose a candidate with real ideas on immigration, rather than one who simply yells the loudest about it.
But for right now, we’re stuck with the current president and that is not good for anybody.
Eric Cunningham is a senior journalism major, from Hickory, North Carolina. You can follow him on Twitter at @DEricCunningham.