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Sunday, March 3, 2024
March 3, 2024

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In Our View: Don’t let Trump undermine border agreement

The Columbian

As Congress and President Joe Biden move closer to a bipartisan deal addressing issues at the nation’s Southern border, Donald Trump is actively trying to undermine any agreement.

It might seem odd that a former president and current candidate would work against an issue he long has made a centerpiece of his rhetoric. But for anybody who has taken a sober look at Trump over the past eight years, it is not at all surprising. Trump is motivated only by what is good for Donald Trump, with little interest or understanding about what is good for the nation.

As Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, explained: “I think the border is a very important issue for Donald Trump. And the fact that he would communicate to Republican senators and congresspeople that he doesn’t want us to solve the border problem because he wants to blame Biden for it is really appalling.

“But the reality is that we have a crisis at the border, the American people are suffering as a result of what’s happening at the border, and someone running for president ought to try to get the problem solved as opposed to saying, ‘Hey, save that problem. Don’t solve it. Let me take credit for solving it later.’ ”

For the past several years, Romney has been a refreshing voice of reason within the Republican Party. And his accurate assessment of the situation distills the narcissism that persistently dictates Trump’s actions and statements.

For politicians of all stripes, it is common for critics to claim that they “hate America” or support policies that would undermine our nation. But it is rare for a candidate to provide proof of such assertions by openly rooting against the United States out of their own self-interest.

This, however, is the same presidential candidate who recently said that if there is an economic crash, he hopes it occurs in the next 12 months so he is not blamed if he returns to office. Rather than highlighting policy differences or explaining why job growth has increased and inflation has decreased under Biden, Trump is concerned only about how the situation impacts him and his election prospects.

That is not presidential behavior. Nor is it good for our nation.

Meanwhile, Congress reportedly is nearing a deal that would include an expansion of the federal government’s deportation powers. It also would include a provision to deny migrants access to the asylum system when the number of daily crossings surpasses 5,000 — essentially closing the border. Those powers would be in line with COVID-era restrictions put in place when Trump was president.

No agreement has been placed in writing, but Biden has said it would include an additional 1,300 Border Patrol officers, 375 immigration judges, 1,600 asylum officers and 100 inspection machines to help detect fentanyl being carried across the border.

Biden said last week: “If that bill were the law today, I’d shut down the border right now and fix it quickly.” Contrary to Trump’s rhetoric, the president does not currently have that power.

In one telling development, the Oklahoma Republican Party last week censured Sen. James Lankford for merely taking part in negotiations with Democrats on the issue. This fits with the Trump playbook in which scoring political points is more important than solving problems.

Some people, undoubtedly, will disagree with this assessment of Trump’s self-centered motivation. For them, we have one question: Would Trump support the presidential power to close the border if he were in office? The answer tells you where his priorities lie.