In the aftermath of yesterday’s apparent terrorist attack by a Uzbeki immigrant to the United States in New York City, President Donald Trump is doing what he does best in moments of national crisis–pointing the finger at his political enemies:
The terrorist came into our country through what is called the “Diversity Visa Lottery Program,” a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2017
Trump appears to be referring to a program created by a 1990 immigration reform law signed by Republican President George H.W. Bush to increase immigration from nations that haven’t sent as many of their huddled masses yearning to breathe free. News reports as of this writing haven’t confirmed if this was the program that resulted in the alleged perpetrator of yesterday’s attack getting his green card, but that didn’t stop Trump from going off–or from blaming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s 27-year-old bill for yesterday’s attack.
But then another Republican, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, rose to Schumer’s defense:
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) November 1, 2017
That would be the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform legislation hammered out by the so-called “Gang of Eight” U.S. Senators, which in addition to Sens. Flake and Schumer also included Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado. Whatever the relevance of this particular visa program to yesterday’s tragedy may be, the man Trump tried to blame yesterday, half-cocked without all the evidence even known, tried to fix it. Along with a host of other well-known problems with American immigration policy that still have not been addressed, even now almost a year into total one-party control of the federal government.
It should also be noted that the 2013 immigration reform plan passed by the U.S. Senate was declared dead on arrival in the U.S. House, where Colorado Republican lawmakers including then-Rep. Cory Gardner and Rep. Mike Coffman joined GOP leadership in thumbing their noses at the work product of the upper chamber. Both Gardner and Coffman have paid lip service to passing some manner of immigration reform since then, but that’s all it has amounted to. Coffman in particular has found himself repeatedly playing catchup with the news cycle following adverse Trump administration action on immigration, with his last would-be attempt to intervene unceremoniously plowed under by Republican leadership with Coffman’s sheepish consent.
The real moral of the story is that you should wait until the facts are known before you start singling out 27-year-old votes to lay blame for a terrorist attack. This is especially true if you are the President of the United States, whose first instinct should be leading not blaming fellow Americans.
Right below that, a point about how failing to lead as legislators has consequences too.