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How Trump is bluffing on his ‘No more DACA deal’ threat

Trump tweets on Easter that Mexico is doing next to "NOTHING" to stop illegal immigration and laughs "at our dumb immigration laws." | Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump couldn’t restrain himself on this Easter and Passover holiday weekend, adding more stress to “Dreamers” with an all-cap “NO MORE DACA DEAL!” tweet.

Trump lobbed his tweet grenade 72 minutes after a HAPPY EASTER!” tweet.

It looks like bluster and bluff.

On Sunday, Trump in a series of tweets and in a brief statement to reporters in Florida, vented about immigration, the Mexican government, Democrats, NAFTA and Senate filibuster rules he wants to change because it gives the minority party power and, of course, DACA.

This is the tweet that came after the Easter greeting.

“Border Patrol Agents are not allowed to properly do their job at the Border because of ridiculous liberal (Democrat) laws like Catch & Release. Getting more dangerous. “Caravans” coming. Republicans must go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws NOW. NO MORE DACA DEAL!”

OPINION

The caravan reference could have been pegged to a FOX News report that had just ran about some 1,000 people marching from Central America to the U.S. border. The nuclear option refers to the Senate needing 60 votes to pass most legislation. In 2018, the GOP has 51 Senate seats.

Outside the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea, an Episcopal church in Palm Beach, where he was with first lady Melania and daughter Tiffany for Easter services Trump was asked by a member of the press pool, “Mr. President, what did you mean by no DACA deal?”

It’s not clear by what he said that even he knows.

“Mexico has got to help us at the border. If they’re not going to help us at the border, it’s a very sad thing. Mexico has got help us at the border. And a lot of people are coming in because they want to take advantage of DACA.

“And we’re going to have to really see. They had a great chance, the Democrats blew it. They had a great, great chance. But we’ll have to take a look. But Mexico has got to help us at the border. They flow right through Mexico. They send them into the United States. Can’t happen that way anymore.”

DACA FACT CHECK: Trump several times on Sunday said or tweeted immigrants want to enter the U.S. illegally to “take advantage of DACA.”

That is not true. Not even close.

The DACA program has NEVER covered folks who are just arriving in the U.S. illegally.

Last September, Trump ordered an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — nicknamed DACA — created by former President Barack Obama in 2012. DACA gave legal protections to “Dreamers,” people who came to the U.S. illegally as youths through no fault of their own.

When Obama created the program, in order to be eligible to apply for DACA status, a person had to have been living in the U.S. since June 15, 2007; be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, and brought to the U.S. before hitting a 16th birthday.

Trump’s total lack of knowledge about these simple DACA facts is stunning. He tweeted this also on Sunday. “These big flows of people are all trying to take advantage of DACA. They want in on the act!”

DACA AND DEMS FACT CHECK: Trump keeps blaming Democrats for no DACA deal when he said Dems “blew it.” The only reason “Dreamers” are at risk is because Trump rescinded the Obama program. The only reason Dems were willing to pay anything for a wall was to save the “Dreamers.”

Trump has rejected deals Senate Democrats and Republicans have negotiated. Democrats were willing to bolster border security and throw in about a billion for Trump’s wall on the Mexican border. Trump wanted billions more.

BOTTOM LINES: Even before the DACA tweet, it was unlikely the House and Senate would take up immigration again before the November elections.

The DACA tweet does not really seem like an announcement of a new policy; rather Trump is trying to link and leverage three items: The Mexico-Canada-U.S. NAFTA trade deal he does not like; DACA and financing for his wall.

He can’t get Mexico or Congress to pay for his wall, a signature campaign pledge.

Now he’s exploring using Department of Defense dollars for the wall, which is unlikely since Congress appropriates money for specific stuff.

This just seems like bluff and bluster.

Trump is using “Dreamers” as pawns. He’s got nothing if he gives up his DACA bargaining chips.