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Obama calls out Trump for ‘cruel’ decision to undo DACA

Former President Barack Obama, seen here on April

Former President Barack Obama, seen here on April 24, 2017, spoke out against President Donald Trump's stance on DACA Tuesday, saying the decision to roll back the program is "cruel" and "self-defeating." Credit: AP / Charles Rex Arbogast

A plea for ‘decency’

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders accidentally said “President Obama” when she meant “President Trump” while talking about the decision to end DACA.

It was as if Sanders was channeling how Barack Obama still lives in Trump’s head. Just last Friday, the Justice Department affirmed the falsity of Trump’s delusional tweet that Obama — a “bad (or sick) guy” — wiretapped Trump Tower.

Obama rarely speaks out these days. But he got in Trump’s face via Facebook Tuesday for undoing his 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals order.

Without saying Trump’s name, Obama wrote that the move is “cruel” and “self-defeating.” Of the 800,000 immigrants who would face deportation, he said: “To target these young people is wrong — because they have done nothing wrong.”

With Trump giving Congress six months to come up with answers before DACA’s termination takes effect, Obama told lawmakers “this is about basic decency.” The Dreamers, he said, “are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.”

Trump: The law comes first

Trump left it to Attorney General Jeff Sessions to announce the end of DACA, but the president followed up with a written statement (full text here).

“I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents,” Trump said. “But we must also recognize that we are a nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws.”

Later, Trump said, he has “great love” for the young people and hopes “Congress will be able to help them and do it properly” (video here). But the Republicans who control Congress are divided between those willing to do so and hard-liners favoring harsher action.

A Trump tweet Tuesday night suggested he wants Congress to ultimately “legalize DACA” and if Congress doesn’t act, “I will revisit this issue!”

See Emily Ngo and Tom Brune’s story for Newsday.

The take-away: He alone can’t fix

In leaving it to Congress to sort out details on whether the Dreamers have a future, Trump is sticking to the approach he followed for Obamacare’s repeal (failed) and the tax overhaul push (fate uncertain), writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.

“Congress, get ready to do your job — DACA!” said Trump’s tweet.

It makes some institutional sense, as Republicans in Congress called Obama’s order an unconstitutional overreach of executive power. But Trump has other motivations to punt the ball to Capitol Hill. He has alternated between playing both good guy and bad guy to the Dreamers, while also trying to please his anti-immigrant base.

Risky with business

Trump’s DACA decision didn’t go over well with business leaders. The Republican-aligned U.S. Chamber of Commerce said losing workers protected by the program “runs contrary to the president’s goal of growing the U.S. economy.”

CEOs from more than 400 companies have urged keeping the program. They include the heads of Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Wells Fargo, Amazon, Netflix, AT&T, Disney and JPMorgan Chase.

Javier Palomarez, CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, resigned from Trump’s diversity coalition, calling the decision “inhumane and economically harmful.”

Also among the critics were religious leaders. The U.S. Catholic Bishops called the move “reprehensible.” Other Christian groups voiced similar sentiments, while evangelicals were split, according to The Washington Post.

Separation anxiety

Trump is “crushed” by the pending departure of Keith Schiller, a confidant and ex-NYPD cop who served for many years as his personal bodyguard and joined him at the White House, Bloomberg News reports.

Schiller has been unhappy since former Gen. John Kelly took over as Trump’s chief of staff. Schiller — accustomed to Trump being surrounded by devoted employees — believes Kelly doesn’t like Trump personally and is serving mainly out of a sense of duty to the country, the report said.

The romance is gone

Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the Trump administration’s decision to close Russian diplomatic outposts in the U.S. But he didn’t criticize Trump directly, dismissing as “naive” a question about whether he was disappointed in the U.S. president.

Trump is “not my bride, and I’m not his groom,” Putin said.

What else is happening

  • Young immigrants and their advocates on Long Island expressed overwhelming sadness and disappointment with the Trump administration’s DACA decision, reports Newsday’s Víctor Manuel Ramos. Newsday’s Laura Figueroa covered a protest in front of Trump Tower in Manhattan.
  • Only 15% of voters favor deportation or removal of the Dreamers, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll. Among Republicans, 69% say they should be allowed to stay.
  • As Congress grapples with immigration issues, the hard-liners will likely be egged on openly by former White House chief political strategist Steve Bannon, Politico reports.
  • Hurricane Harvey tested Trump’s empathy for storm victims. With Hurricane Irma, it may get personal. A Trump mansion on the Caribbean island of St. Martin is in the storm’s path, according to the Miami Herald, and if it reaches south Florida, several Trump properties there would be in peril.
  • A prospective job at the Department of Homeland Security didn’t pan out for former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, a Trump supporter with a penchant for authoritarian-sounding rhetoric. He’s joining the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action instead.
  • As a candidate and as president, Trump has been sharply critical of the Iran nuclear deal. But he may leave the ultimate decision on whether to stay in it or get out to Congress, according to UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.
  • Spicey’s got a sweet deal. Former Trump press secretary Sean Spicer is headed for the lucrative paid-speeches circuit, signing with Worldwide Speakers Group, Politico reported. He will also be pitching a book proposal.

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