There’s what Donald Trump does, and what Donald Trump says. Then, there’s what he says an hour later. Very often, none of these are in agreement with each other. This is the man with whom Democrats and Republicans have been trying to work out an immigration deal for DACA recipients for the last seven months.
On Friday afternoon, all those competing impulses were on display again. President Trump signed the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill Congress managed to pass the night before after he threatened early Friday to veto it. Trump did make his displeasure known at the White House signing on Friday afternoon. “I say to Congress, I will never sign another bill like this again. I’m not going to do it again,” Trump said.
The spending bill will fund the federal government through to at least September, granting six months off from the regular “will they keep the lights on?” wrangling. The more-than-2,000-page bill covers opioid treatment, disaster relief, and national security. It provides funding for the hiring of more than 300 new Customs and Border Patrol agents. But the bill offers nothing for the 700,000 DACA recipients whose lives have been thrown into limbo after Trump canceled the program in September of last year. The spending resolution is widely seen as the last best chance to get something done on DACA.
“Nobody read it. It’s only hours old,” Trump said at the bill’s signing ceremony.
“DACA recipients have been treated extremely badly by the Democrats. We wanted to include them in the bill. Eight hundred thousand people, and actually it could even be more. The Democrats would not do it. They would not do it,” Trump added later.
But Trump’s only got cynical love for Dreamers, as DACA recipients are often called. Trump’s real criticisms of the bill are that, while it offered $1.6 billion for building and repairing existing border fencing, it put nothing toward the $26 billion needed to fund the “big, beautiful” concrete border wall that has become the symbol of Trump’s immigration and border-security policy. Under the bill, some 92 miles of fencing will be replaced or built, but all of it must hew to existing border-fencing models. None of the money will go toward building any of the wall prototypes that Trump went to visit in California last week.
At the signing, Trump claimed this part of the bill as a win, and suggested that funding fence repair is the same as funding his true dream project. “We funded the initial down payment of $1.6 billion dollars,” Trump said at the signing. “We’re starting work on Monday on some new wall, but also fixing existing walls and acceptable fences.”
“There are,” Trump said, explaining how fences and walls are so very alike, “some areas you have to be able to see through.”