This was, by all accounts, an absolutely disastrous week for Donald Trump.
In the space of just five days, the president was blamed for green-lighting a mini-genocide in northeastern Syria, accused by a federal judge in Manhattan of harboring views “repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values”, ordered to hand over financial documents to Elijah Cummings, accused of pressuring Rex Tillerson to intervene in a high-profile criminal case, dismayed to learn that Rudy Giuliani’s Ukraine fixers who helped dig up dirt on Joe Biden were arrested trying to leave the country and accused by the former ambassador to Ukraine of illegitimately ousting her in part due to a pressure campaign orchestrated by Giuliani’s now jailed fixers.
It’s almost impressive, especially considering the sheer scope of it all.
Believe it or not, that isn’t even the end of it.
On Friday, the president was dealt yet another embarrassing blow when not one, not two, but three federal judges blocked his attempt to deny legal status to immigrants receiving government assistance.
Back in August, the administration said that within 60 days, new regulations would go into effect aimed at penalizing immigrants who rely on public assistance such as food stamps, Medicaid and government housing programs. The rule would make it much more difficult for low-income immigrants and those who are undereducated, to get visas and green cards.
The so-called “public charge” rule has been at the top of Stephen Miller’s list when it comes to what the immigration hardliner wants pushed through in pursuit of his broader agenda, which seeks to reshape the country’s immigration system in the image of Trump’s overtly xenophobic campaign rhetoric.
Friday’s three rulings prevent that rule from taking effect as scheduled on October 15.
Judges in New York and Washington State issued nationwide injunctions, while a judge in California limited her ruling to certain locations.
Manhattan-based US District George Daniels issued a 24-page order, suggesting the administration had overstepped its authority in attempting to widen the scope for determining who should be deemed a public charge.
New York Attorney General Letitia James – who Trump absolutely despises – took a victory lap.
“This rule would have had devastating impacts on New Yorkers and our nation, and today’s decision is a critical step in our efforts to uphold the rule of law”, she said on Twitter.
Judge Daniels lambasted the administration’s new standard, saying it “has absolutely no support in the history of US immigration law”.
After languishing in purgatory under L. Francis Cissna, the rule was finished under Cissna’s successor Ken Cuccinelli, a hardliner whose views generally align with Miller’s. Cuccinelli came under intense media scrutiny in August for (almost literally) suggesting the US should rewrite Emma Lazarus’s “The New Colossus”.
“Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge”, Cuccinelli suggested, when pressed about the administration’s proposed rule change.
Satirists have long joked that the administration wanted to have the poem removed from the Statue of Liberty. As of Cuccinelli’s gaffe, that was no longer confined to the realm of satire, although he didn’t indicate any plans to take a chisel to Lady Liberty.
California Judge Phyllis Hamilton included “The New Colossus” in her ruling.
The White House is furious. “These injunctions are the latest inexplicable example of the Administration being ordered to comply with the flawed or lawless guidance of a previous administration instead of the actual laws passed by Congress”, press secretary Stephanie Grisham said.
“An objective judiciary will see that this rule lies squarely within long-held existing law”, Cuccinelli said, in a defiant set of tweets. “Long-standing federal law requires aliens to rely on their own capabilities and the resources of their families, sponsors, and private organizations in their communities to succeed”.
Sorry, Ken. It looks like this round goes to the “tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free”.
New York Ruling