The bill Trump signed Friday (no doubt without reading) would have been quite different had the Democrats not won the House in November. Elections do matter. Without the need to compromise with Democrats to pass a funding bill, the Republicans in the Senate would never have defied Trump as much as this new law does.
As Politico reports, “tucked into the 1,159-page bill are provisions that limit Trump’s ability to round up undocumented immigrants and that increase oversight of the officers who carry out those sweeps. On the border, restrictions on barrier construction will bar the administration from erecting fences on several large properties in South Texas, including a butterfly sanctuary and a historic Catholic church. “
Congress ignored the Trump administration’s request to fund 750 additional Border Patrol agents. Additionally, it ignores the administration’s request for 2,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. What Congress passed under pressure from the Democratic House amounts to a not so subtle rejection of Trump’s aggressive enforcement tactics.
One measure that Democrats pushed hard for prohibits DHS from detaining or deporting a sponsor, potential sponsor, or household member of an unaccompanied minor based on information shared with HHS. This has incensed pundits on the right, but it’s now the law that someone stepping forward to care for an unaccompanied minor has protections from deportation — thanks to Democrats.
There are many other seemingly small restrictions on ICE and DHS buried in the bill. But for the human beings who won’t be shackled or subjected to other maltreatment, these changes aren’t small at all.
Trump didn’t get any of the $5.7 billion he demanded for a concrete or steel wall. The $1.375 billion appropriated is enough for 55 miles for “pedestrian fencing” in the Texas Rio Grande Valley, but that money is subject to numerous restrictions. The barriers can only use existing designs (which means Trump can’t use any of the border wall prototypes his administration built for show), and barriers are banned in five ecologically or historically sensitive areas, including that butterfly sanctuary. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security must consult with local officials before embarking on construction.
Of course, the petulant boy-president reacted by signing the bill and then trying to end-run it with a declaration of a “national emergency” before flying off for 3 days of golf at Mar-a-Lago. So, the sad saga will continue. But for now, some good has been done because Democrats won elections.