Years of not being able to make deals with Congress have not dented President Trump’s self-regard about his deal-making abilities one bit.
In an Oval Office rant before a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday afternoon, the president claimed he could hash out a deal to fix America’s immigration laws in one 45-minute meeting. He then named all of the issues he would want to see resolved, which anyone with functional brain cells could recognize will take a lot longer than 45 minutes to figure out.
“Congress has to meet quickly, and make a deal, I could do it in 45 minutes,” Trump told the assembled reporters. “We need to get rid of chain migration, we need to get rid of catch and release, and visa lottery, and we have to do something about asylum. And to be honest with you, we have to get rid of judges.”
This was apparently a reference to immigration judges, who are responsible for adjudicating asylum cases. Trump seems to want to get rid of them because he disagrees with the entire concept of a legal process for migrants requesting asylum: “You have to bring them through a court system, if they touch your land, one foot on your land, welcome to being Perry Mason, you now have a big trial.”
Trump went on to claim that only one to two percent of migrants released into the United States interior return to court for their asylum hearings. This is incorrect. Data has shown that between 60 and 75 percent of non-detained migrants show up for their court dates. Those numbers rise if the migrants are monitored and given access to legal counsel.
Something that would help reduce the backlog of immigration cases would be to increase the number of immigration judges. But Trump and the anti-immigration hardliners who populate his administration are not really interested in allowing migrants to receive asylum in the country at all. In fact, the administration would like to decrease the number of immigrants allowed in generally, not just migrants crossing the southern border.
Trump later repeated his claim that all of the immigration issues could be solved in one 45-minute meeting if Democrats were willing to meet: “The Democrats could change it with one meeting. Everybody would agree. But they don’t want to change it, because they don’t want to give the Republicans a victory. They don’t want to change it, because they want open borders.”
The key is “everybody would agree.” Trump has laid out maximalist positions — getting rid of visa lotteries, fully ending catch-and-release, and so on. There is no reason to think Democrats would give in completely on his demands.
Besides, Democrats thought they had a deal with Trump to make some changes to immigration law in exchange for permanently fixing the status of people in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2017, only to see him walk away at the last minute. What has changed, and why they should trust Trump to make a fair deal now, remains a mystery.
Watch the clip up top, via MSNBC.