With his 100th day recently past, President Donald Trump suffered two major, but non-fatal, reversals on signature campaign promises.
On April 25, during the morning hours, President Trump wisely waved the white flag on his insistence that $5 billion in funding for his “big beautiful” Southwest border wall be included in the proposed continuing resolution to keep the government open. Democrats, who oppose the wall, threatened to shut down the government and would blame the interruption on the president.
President Trump made vague references to resuming congressional debate about wall construction before fiscal year-end September 30. But retreating on the wall was wise. The wall was a battle President Trump couldn’t, for now, win. On the bright side, President Trump didn’t come away empty handed. The budget will allocate about $1 billion for border surveillance, and the Department of Homeland Security will proceed with $20 million in redirected funding to build barrier prototypes.
In an effort to appease disappointed and disgruntled supporters, the White House has other immigration-related enforcement victories it can point to. While not as visible or symbolic as a wall, the dramatic 60 percent drop in illegal immigration and vigorous interior removals are big wins, and a hallmark of the young Trump administration. In mid-April, Immigration Customs and Enforcement arrested 95 illegal immigrants in Houston, 86 percent with prior criminal convictions.
Later on the 25th, in his unsurprising ruling, San Francisco U.S. District Judge William Orrick issued a preliminary injunction that blocked President Trump’s executive order to withhold funding to sanctuary cities. Such cities brazenly refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials to remove criminal aliens. San Francisco is the city that infamously released five-time deported, seven-time convicted felon Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez. Once released, Lopez-Sanchez shot and killed 31-year-old Kate Steinle.
Judge Orrick, like other shopped judges who ruled against President Trump’s two earlier restrictive immigration orders, sits on the nation’s most overturned court, the Ninth Circuit. Moreover, little doubt exists about where Judge Orrick’s sentiments lie; he was a donation bundler for President Obama, and a hefty personal contributor to the former president’s re-election campaigns.
Sanctuary advocates’ perceived victory will be short-lived. If the Supreme Court doesn’t reverse the Ninth Circuit before the 2017 fiscal year-end, the Justice Department will write in more specific requirements into the next grant authorizations that identify exactly how sanctuary cities must cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement if they expect funding. Judge Orrick ruled that the federal government doesn’t have the authority to retroactively attach what the court alleges are new conditions to how money is disbursed.
The Ninth Circuit court’s anti-Trump rulings may comfort immigration extremists, but they also fire up the president’s base, a more significant voting bloc. In its statement that reflects the opinion of the American majority, the White House Press Secretary’s office said that “an unelected judge unilaterally rewrote the nation’s immigration policy,” and charged the court with egregious overreach that puts criminal aliens ahead of citizens’ safety.
To be sure, President Trump’s first 100 days include disappointments. But more than 1,000 days remain for President Trump to make good on his promises, and most of his supporters expect him to do exactly that.