Donald Trump would not have been elected president if not for the support of the “Angel Moms” — the mothers (and fathers) who lost children to crimes committed by illegal aliens.
That fact is worth remembering as Trump prepares to make a deal with Democrats on the fate of those illegal aliens benefiting from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — which he is ending, but which he now clearly hopes to codify in law.
Trump declared his candidacy on June 16, 2015, riding down the escalator in Trump Tower and delivering a speech in which he clumsily blasted Mexican immigrants — not distinguishing between legal and illegal ones.
It was a poor start, and the Trump campaign failed to take off. For three and a half weeks, Trump languished at the bottom of the polls. On July 10, 2015, he was still in sixth place, behind frontrunner Jeb Bush and even losing to Mike Huckabee.
But on that day, Trump did something that changed the shape of the presidential race. He met with the families of the Remembrance Project, a group of Angel Moms and Angel Dads dedicated to preserving the memories of their loved ones and raising awareness about crimes committed by those who never should have been in the country at all. (Kate Steinle had been murdered nine days before; the crime had been covered extensively by Breitbart News.)
There is a famous photograph that emerged from that meeting, taken by Jae C. Hong of the Associated Press. It showed the ever-voluble Trump simply listening to the stories of the bereaved parents, his arms folded in front of him, his brow furrowed in concern.
That photograph went viral. And Trump’s poll numbers skyrocketed. Within nine days, Trump had taken the lead in the Republican primary race, and he almost never gave it up after that.
Trump featured the Angel Moms and Dads at numerous campaign rallies and events, including the Republican National Convention. He sometimes yielded the podium to them mid-speech, forcing the mainstream media news networks to cover them, giving them a platform they had never had before.
And they helped him immensely: here was living proof that Trump cared about ordinary Americans, about people whom the government had forgotten.
Now those Angel Moms worry they are being forgotten again. The potential deal that Trump and the Democratic leadership announced this week — DACA for “border security” — is a total betrayal of his campaign promises. It also ignores the lesson of more than a decade of efforts at immigration reform, which is that the public will only accept legal status for the “undocumented” after the border has been completely secured against new lawbreakers.
Read the words of the Angel Moms themselves, reported — as ever — by Breitbart News’ Michelle Moons, who has been covering them since long before the 2016 presidential campaign. Some are open to compromise on DACA, but not before the border wall has been built; not before Kate’s Law — which increases the penalties for entering the country illegally after deportation — has passed the Senate; not before the “sanctuary cities” have been stopped.
Republican leaders are delighted with the purported DACA deal, eager for Trump to enact what Barack Obama could not do with both houses of Congress.
But if Trump goes through with it, he will be responsible for the worst betrayal in American political history. And the Angel Moms who once joined him onstage will hound him at every turn, leading growing throngs of protesters. They will bring him down, unless he changes the deal.
It is not too late.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.