Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Trump’s first days leave no doubt he’ll deliver on vow to upend status quo

He has pulled out of a major international trade deal and moved to reopen another, revived two controversial oil pipelines, breaking with his predecessor's stand on climate change, and laid out plans to roll back environmental assessments and enforce protectionist "buy American" policies.

For Donald Trump, this was just the warm-up. On Wednesday, he started implementing the twin promises that vaulted him to the presidency: building a wall along the Mexican border and clamping down on immigration from Muslim countries.

The Trump administration has been moving with lightning speed to push forward its signature policies. Devoting each day to a particular theme – trade, oil, immigration – has given Washington's new regime a stream of media coverage showing the President doing what he pledged during the election.

Story continues below advertisement

Read more: Trump withdraws from TPP, but offers Canada hope on NAFTA

Tony Keller: Why President Trump might not be the worst for Canada

Mr. Trump's own indiscipline has distracted from this agenda at times. Over the weekend, for instance, he complained about media coverage of the size of the crowd at his inauguration and dispatched his spokesman to falsely assert it was the largest in history. Political observers have widely disputed that claim.

And he chose to repeat his allegation that up to five million people had voted illegally, then announced an investigation into the matter. Members of his own party have questioned the claim and called on him to provide evidence.

But, by and large, the early days of Mr. Trump's presidency have given the impression of a man in charge, delivering the radical upending of the status quo that he promised.

Wednesday's moves will bring the last tumultuous 18 months full circle.

The wall on the Mexican border is part of Mr. Trump's origin story, promised at the launch of his campaign in July, 2015. The pledge drew attention to his presidential run and led to a standard chant at his rallies. Six months later, Mr. Trump promised to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.

Story continues below advertisement

While both promises drew widespread condemnation – even Republican voters at the rallies of Mr. Trump's rivals for the party's nomination openly described him as a fascist and compared him to Hitler – they ultimately vaulted him to the head of his party and the country's highest office.

The actual form either policy will take is still in question.

Mr. Trump has frequently provided possible heights for the wall – anywhere from 30 to 65 feet (nine to 20 metres). And his spokesman hinted Tuesday that Mr. Trump will ask Congress for funds to build the wall, as opposed to insisting the Mexican government hand over a cheque, as promised on the campaign trail.

His ban on Muslims entering the country, meanwhile, will reportedly be changed to a ban on most refugees, plus a block on immigration from seven specific countries – Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.

The expected moves follow high-profile terror attacks on U.S. soil during the presidential campaign and rising anti-immigrant sentiment.

The San Bernardino shootings in 2015 and the Orlando nightclub rampage in 2016 were largely carried out by U.S.-born citizens. And in each of 2013, 2014 and 2015, about 70,000 refugees landed in the country. By comparison, nearly 1.4-million landed in Europe in 2015, amid the outflow of people from Syria.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Trump's pledge to crack down on illegal immigration took another twist on Wednesday. He has pledged to investigate mass voting by illegal immigrants.

The whirlwind of the last three days has left no doubt: Mr. Trump intends to do exactly what he said he would.

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
Washington correspondent

Adrian Morrow covers U.S. politics from Washington, D.C. Previously he was The Globe's Ontario politics reporter. He's covered news, crime and sports for The Globe since 2010. He won the National Newspaper Award for politics reporting in 2016. More

Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨