You know you’re reading advocacy on a presidential policy, not journalism, when the statement on which the writer is supposedly reporting is briefly summarized, with misleading details and subjective commentary thrown in, and the bulk of the article quotes opposing activists and conveys sympathetic anecdotes. Such is the case with President Trump’s statement announcing his policy toward the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
The background is that President Obama was unable to move immigration legislation through Congress, so he simply declared that he would not enforce the law for some illegal immigrants. The unconstitutional nature of this action is the focus of President Trump’s statement:
As President, my highest duty is to defend the American people and the Constitution of the United States of America. At the same time, I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents. But we must also recognize that we are nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws.
The legislative branch, not the executive branch, writes these laws – this is the bedrock of our Constitutional system, which I took a solemn oath to preserve, protect, and defend.
The statement notes that 10 states are suing over Obama’s action and that the Trump administration has concluded that the federal government will lose a fair lawsuit. It also highlights the humanitarian crisis that Obama’s unilateral action spurred, as young foreigners flooded the southern border of the United States.
So, “applications for new work permits will not be accepted,” but “all existing work permits will be honored,” and those currently being processed will be processed according to existing rules. Moreover, the president stated his hope that Congress will resolve this Obama-created crisis by passing an actual law… the way this is supposed to be done. “This is a gradual process, not a sudden phase out.”
As if in coordination, the theme that this is a “betrayal” of immigrants covered by DACA permeates the reporting. Not mentioned is that the Trump administration would actually be betraying the voters who elected him, inasmuch as this issue was central to his success.
But to read the news reporting on this matter, one would think that the president had declared that deportations start tomorrow. Today’s Providence Journal front page, for example, splashes the giant headline “‘Dreamers’ Denied.” The bulk of the page is given over to a dramatic article about people affected, by Linda Borg. A (smaller) AP article by Jill Colvin accompanying the story isn’t reporting, but commentary:
Trump didn’t specify what he wanted done, essentially sending a six-month time bomb to his fellow Republicans in Congress who have no consensus on how to defuse it. …
The president tried to have it both ways with his compromise plan: fulfilling his campaign promise to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, while at the same time showing compassion for those who would lose deportation protection and the ability to work legally in the U.S.
In keeping with President Obama’s disrespect for the rule of law, this entire episode is a shameful abrogation of the responsibility of journalists. A democracy cannot function with this level of systemic imbalance. Indeed, one begins to suspect that the folks churning out the propaganda don’t really want democracy to function, preferring whatever system of government furthers their own ideological interests.