Another week, another tantrum. He probably saw something upsetting on TV again.
We are once again on the cusp of a government shutdown. Unless Donald Trump agrees to sign something by Friday, the month-long government shutdown of a few weeks ago will restart and continue until some morning’s news coverage convinces Trump that his precious border wall is less significant than, say, the full or partial closure of multiple U.S. airports for lack of federal workers.
At the moment negotiators seem to be at another impasse, once again because Donald Trump does not negotiate so much as pout. Democratic negotiators have expressed a willingness to spend up to $2 billion on barriers at the border, a substantial reversal from previous Democratic insistence that the money be allocated to other, non-wall security measures. It is a big, big concession to Trump’s tantrums—but there’s a catch.
In exchange for this new infusion of wall money, Democrats have been proposing the administration sharply curtail its “zero tolerance” roundups and detentions of non-criminal undocumented immigrants. It is the zero tolerance policy, declaring all undocumented entries worthy of imprisonment, that led to the administration’s child separation policies and subsequent tent cities for those separated children. Democrats are offering the wall money in exchange for a cap on the number of longtime undocumented residents ICE can round up and hold in detention at any one time, from the current 20,000 back to the roughly 16,500 that were detained at the end of the last administration.
This would not mean an end to the arbitrary sweeps, but it would force Team Trump’s underlings to once again prioritize dangerous criminals first, rather than whatever undocumented residents could most easily be swept up at court hearings, or by lying in wait at their children’s schools, and so on. (It is, as trade-off, a debatable tactic; it is not immediately clear, for example, how Democrats could enforce the new arrangement if Trump and his underlings decided to ignore it 48 hours after signing the papers, something they would almost certainly try.)
But is Trump willing to make the concession of perhaps not imprisoning as many non-criminal residents in exchange for his own personal obsession, constructing his Racism Wall? Of course not.