Sen. Dick Durbin saidTuesdaythat an “unstable” President Donald Trump “ought to be ashamed of himself” for taking Twitter slaps at young undocumented immigrants over the weekend in order to shore up prospects for his “whacko” border wall.
At the same time, the Illinois Democrat defended Trump’s right to send troops to the border to enforce immigration laws, but suggested the president was unnecessarily “escalating” national tensions over immigration.
The president saidTuesdayhe plans to send the military to guard the Mexican border against illegal immigrants until he can build a wall.
That followed an EasterSundaytweet from Trump demanding tougher immigration laws and declaring: “NO MORE DACA DEAL!”
It was the president’s attack on immigrants covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that prompted Durbin to schedule a news conference here to defend DACA for the second time in a week.
Trump has already declared an end to the program, but federal courts have ordered it kept in place for current recipients.
Durbin argued Trump was guilty of “either willful ignorance or deliberate misrepresentation” for suggesting that DACA continues to draw illegal immigrants to the U.S. because the program only provides protections to those who have been living here continually since 2007.
“No one can come to the United States border, present themselves and claim DACA protection,” said Durbin, who has been a champion of the program to defend young immigrants from its inception. He was joined at the news conferenceby two so-called “Dreamers” who came to the U.S. illegally as young children — one a newly licensed lawyer and the other a physician’s assistant.
Durbin said congressional negotiators tried to bargain with the president previously.
“We offered him his $25 billion whacko wall” in exchange for protection for DACA recipients, but the president wasn’t satisfied with the deal, Durbin said.
Asked about Trump sayingTuesdayhe will be “doing some things” on the border with the military, Durbin noted that both Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush had done so previously.
“There are times when troops on the border can be important,” Durbin told reporters. “I don’t know the circumstances here, but I suspect what’s going on quite honestly is he’s reacting to another Fox TV News report about caravans of undocumented and illegal people coming to the U.S.,” Durbin said, arguing the caravan story has been overblown.
“I think what the president is doing is escalating the situation, this tension, this fear and hatred that we have from many people coming out of his administration. We don’t need that,” he added later.
Durbin said he’s still willing to negotiate with the president on immigration but said it is difficult.
“He is unreliable. He is unprepared. And he is unstable.”