Trump has handled his administration’s decision to kill DACA—a program that essentially acts as a lifeline for 800,000 undocumented immigrants—with complete carelessness. On Tuesday, Trump sent out his good boy Jeff Sessions to announce that the government wouldn’t be accepting any new DACA applications and that the administration would phase out the program over the next six months. This delay is meant to allow Trump to wash his hands of the deed and force Congress to enact immigration reform, throwing DACA into the realm of the legislative unknown.
Then, that very night Trump tweeted that he would “revisit” the program after six months if Congress failed to act:
This is confusing and contradictory language for people whose daily lives and decisions—whether or not to buy a house, apply to schools, build their careers—hang on the president’s every whim.
Not to be outdone by Tuesday Trump, Thursday Trump tweeted that DACA recipients had “nothing to worry about” over the next six months:
This is criminally misleading, even for Trump. DACA recipients whose permits expire before March 5 have only one month to renew if they wish to do so. There is also the added fear that the information that Dreamers shared with the government when applying for DACA will be used against them.
Trump seems to barely grasp the implication of his actions. That he has injected as much uncertainty as possible into the program and still states that DACA recipients have “nothing to worry about” is incredibly callous. The most charitable explanation is that Trump, who has never experienced hardship in his life, is unable to grasp the simple fact that policies that can upend people’s lives require utmost precision.
But it is also a very tried and true form of Trumpian terror. And it’s working—as The New York Times wrote about one DACA recipient: “Worried that Trump might kill the program in a late-night tweet, Montoya took to setting her alarm clock for 5 a.m., so she could start each morning by checking whether her DACA protections had been destroyed.” The only function of today’s tweet is to make Trump feel better about himself, while everyone else continues to live under the exhaustion of daily fear.