For the past week, I’ve watched in amazement as a huge victory for President Donald Trump has been spun by many as a massive defeat.
On July 11, the president appeared at a White House press conference with Attorney General William Barr to deliver some very important news on immigration. The two men jointly announced that since there’s no longer enough time to place the controversial citizenship question on the 2020 Census—given the time it would take to navigate the legal challenges—Trump will instead use an executive order to require all federal agencies to share their data on citizens and non-citizens with the Commerce Department.
Immediately following the president’s statements, the usual doom-criers in conservative media filled the airwaves with cries of “cave” and “sell-out” and “failure.” Meanwhile, social media accounts that purport to be Trump-friendly spent days “explaining” how Trump has yet again betrayed or failed his base.
They must have watched a different press conference than the one I did.
I’m not the only one to figure out how Trump has expertly played the Democrats in the past week. Andrew Malcolm wrote an excellent op-ed at McClatchy spelling out how Trump’s strategy has left him in a stronger position, while leaving the Democrats totally exposed on the immigration issue. Malcolm wrote the article after advance leaks had Democrats and the media celebrating, because Trump supposedly had given up the fight:
“Trump, in fact, took the citizenship issue to a whole new front — one that only he controls through the federal bureaucracy.
“He signed one of his favored executive orders erasing data-sharing obstacles between departments, including Defense and Homeland Security, and compelling all to cooperate with the Census Bureau on estimating citizenship.
“Trump called this data vital to design sound public policies in health care, civil rights, education, and immigration. ‘We must have a reliable count of how many citizens, non-citizens, and illegal aliens are in our country,’ the president declared.
“Recent polls indicate 60 percent of Americans actually agree with Trump.
“Of course, he also slipped in a political shot: ‘As shocking as it may be, far-left Democrats in our country are determined to conceal the number of illegal aliens in our midst. They probably know the number is far greater, much higher than anyone would have believed before.’”
Those who think Trump is losing the immigration fight completely ignore what Trump and Barr actually said at that press conference.
Barr patiently explained there was no time left to put a citizenship question into the 2020 census form. Here’s how he quite succinctly explained it:
“Because as the Supreme Court recognized, the defect in Secretary Ross’s decision was curable with a better record, the President asked me to work with Secretary Ross to determine whether there remained any viable path for including a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. I did so. In my view, the government has ample justification to inquire about citizenship status on the census and could plainly provide rationales for doing so that would satisfy the Supreme Court. There is thus no question that a new decision to add the question would ultimately survive legal review.
“The problem is that any new decision would be subject to immediate challenge as a new claim in the three ongoing district court cases. In addition, there are injunctions currently in place that forbid adding the question. There is simply no way to litigate these issues and obtain relief from the current injunctions in time to implement any new decision, without jeopardizing our ability to carry out the census itself, which we are not going to do. So, as a practical matter, the Supreme Court’s decision closed all paths to adding the question to the 2020 decennial census. Put simply, the impediment was logistical, not legal. We simply cannot complete the litigation in time to carry out the census, including appeals.”
As Barr carefully elucidated, the choice the administration faced was either to give up on having the 2020 Census or to find another way to count the number of illegal immigrants in the country. So he and Trump found another way, one that will be far more accurate in the long run and that Democrats will be powerless to stop, because how could the federal government be prevented from consulting its own internal records at the direction of its chief executive?
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to discover that this is what Trump really planned to do all along. He simply waited until the Democrats had won at the Supreme Court on obstructing the addition of the citizenship question to the Census before showing his hand.
Barr went on in his statement to also push back against the absurd speculation in the media that Trump would defiantly place the citizenship question on the census form by executive fiat:
“One other point on this. Some in the media have been suggesting—in the hysterical mode of the day—that the Administration has been planning to add the citizenship question to the census by executive fiat without regard for contrary court orders or what the Supreme Court might say. This has been based on rank speculation and nothing more. As should be obvious, that was never under consideration. We have always accepted that a new decision to add a citizenship question to the census would be subject to judicial review.”
Dems Weaker Than Ever on Immigration Issue
Over the past several months, Trump has maneuvered the Democrats into starkly revealing that they will do whatever it takes to prevent an accurate count of how many illegal immigrants are currently residing in the United States.
This is an incredibly bad look for the Democratic Party. Their stated reasons for wanting to hide and obscure this factual information aren’t holding up, and Trump keeps goading them into making their affinity for illegals over U.S. citizens crystal-clear.
Two other key developments occurred after Trump announced his executive action on gathering citizenship data:
- A new asylum rule, which requires asylum-seekers to file for asylum in the first safe country they reach. Only after they are rejected can they apply for asylum in the United States.
- Barr invoked §1158(a)(2)(a), a multilateral treaty that declares Mexico a safe third country, to implement this new rule, so now all asylum-seekers will be sent legally to Mexico to await their hearing.
To combat these new rules on asylum, open borders advocates will have to come up with an argument as to why these asylum-seekers need to be admitted for their asylum only into the United States. Why would only the United States do for their asylum claims, rather than any of the other various countries they passed through on their way to the southern U.S. border?
I wish them lots of luck trying to make that explanation.
Brian Cates is a political pundit and writer based in South Texas and the author of “Nobody Asked for My Opinion … But Here It Is Anyway!”