President (ugh) Trump continued his bull-in-a-china-shop routine Wednesday by signing a few questionable executive orders, including one to build a border wall with Mexico, one to cut off funds to cities that do not report undocumented immigrants, and one that could restart an interrogation program that was dismantled in 2009 after being condemned as torture.
Trump visited the Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday and signed directives that create more detention centers, add thousands of Border Patrol agents and withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities—as well as one specific order that calls for the “immediate construction of a physical wall” at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Washington Post reports.
“We are going to restore the rule of law in the United States,” Trump told DHS employees. “Beginning today, the United States gets control of its borders.”
As the Post notes, the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border was a promise of Trump’s campaign, which blamed illegal immigration for constricting the U.S. job market for Americans and adding to national security concerns.
More directives could come later this week, including new restrictions on refugees and immigrants from Muslim-majority countries.
The backlash against the directives was immediate from congressional Democrats and immigrant-rights groups, and protesters gathered outside the White House within hours of Trump’s announcement.
“The hateful, xenophobic, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric that was a hallmark of the Trump campaign is starting to become a reality,” Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said. “Chaos and destruction will be the outcome.”
Trump told ABC News that construction on the wall would begin “as soon as we can physically do it” and said the project would be funded by U.S. tax dollars to start, but he reiterated his claim that the Mexican government would reimburse the United States.
Meanwhile, the Post managed to get a copy of a draft of a directive that calls for a policy review that could authorize the CIA to reopen overseas “black site” prisons and restart an interrogation program that was ended in 2009 after it was widely condemned for using methods that were considered torture.
The proposal would revoke former President Barack Obama’s order to end the CIA program and require national security officials to evaluate whether CIA interrogation of terrorism suspects should resume.
The document also says that Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, should be used for newly captured prisoners. No prisoner has been sent there since Obama took office in 2009 and attempted to close the facility, the Post reports.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday that the document “is not a White House document” and “I have no idea where it came from,” but the Post reports that the person who provided the document said it had been circulated among agencies in Washington for comment, and the immediate feedback suggested that it needed wider distribution and review before being finalized.
Whether the document will truly lead to the CIA’s resumption of its torture program or the reopening of Guantanamo Bay remains to be seen; there are many obstacles that would have to be overcome before such plans could be put in place.
As ever, our newly elected president is showing that he has the temperament of an impulsive teenager with a pack of matches, and I hope our legislators will be moved to do all they can to stop him from burning our damn house down.