President Trump was hoping to focus his reelection campaign on a strong economy, but since his failure to contain the coronavirus obliterated that strategy he’s back to where he started — demonizing immigrants and fomenting racial anxiety.
Trump recently traveled to Arizona, a newly-minted battleground state, to announce that his vanity border wall project is coming along quite nicely. He bragged that border crossings are down 84 percent even though this is in part because of a crippled economy, inhumane treatment of migrants, and the spread of a deadly virus. The fact is that only three miles of new border wall have been built where no previous barrier existed, according to a June 19 status update by Homeland Security.
Even Trump’s funding approach has hit a wall. The 9th Circuit of Appeals ruled in June that Trump’s reallocation of military funds violated the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution that gives the legislative branch the sole power of the purse. The majority wrote in its opinion: “These funds were appropriated for other purposes, and the transfer amounted to ‘drawing funds from the Treasury without authorization by statute and thus violating the Appropriations Clause…Therefore, the transfer of funds here was unlawful.”
Unfortunately, a Supreme Court ruling in 2019 will allow the funds to continue to be used while the lawsuit plays out.
Trump isn’t just fighting for funding in court. Since the pandemic started government lawyers have filed more than 40 cases to seize private property along the border from Texans who, in some cases, have held that land for generations. Ricky Garza, an attorney for Texas Civil Rights Project, said that his clients were “being forced to choose between their health and defending their homes.”
While Trump uses the cover of the pandemic to further his anti-immigrant agenda, American citizens are starting to understand how it feels when other countries remove their welcome mat. That’s because since the United States has become the number 1 travel destination for COVID-19, the European Union has banned entry by U.S. tourists. Even China, who Trump has tried to shift all blame for COVID-19, is on the recommended list of allowed countries. Perhaps as embarrassing is that some states that are recovering from their previous spikes in cases are requiring quarantining of domestic travelers from states Trump touted as models for reopening including Florida and the border states of Texas and Arizona.
Trump’s 360 degrees of misdirection is finally catching up with him at a dizzying pace as all of the aforementioned states are competitive in November. No matter where he goes, his legacy of ineptitude follows him around like toilet paper stuck to his shoe.
Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images