DACA: Late-night comics strain for humor in ‘man made disaster unfolding in Washington’

The Trump administration is rescinding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Late-night comedians Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers and others expressed dismay on Sept. 5. (The Washington Post)

Jimmy Kimmel said Trump must have awakened Tuesday morning and asked, “What’s something horrible I can do to distract people from the Russia investigation?”

“Someone said, ‘you know there are 800,000 innocent kids you can deport for no good reason!’” Kimmel then said.

Pundits and politicians alike spent much of the day on Tuesday unpacking President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

And then it was time for late-night comedy, though for some comics, there was nothing funny to say and they stooped to seriousness, an increasing tendency since the conflict in Charlottesville last month.

From “Late Night With Seth Meyers” to “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” hosts leaned on their refined Trump imitations to paint the picture of an administration no better at managing a natural disaster such as Hurricane Harvey than at preventing what Colbert dubbed the “man made disaster unfolding in Washington right now” — the end of DACA.

Pivoting off Trump’s appearances in storm-ravaged Texas, comedians used stories of undocumented first responders as examples of those at risk of deportation.

They mocked Trump’s punting of the announcement to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and took note of the fact that Trump’s wives also immigrated to this country.

“Ultimately Donald Trump believes if these kids want to be American, then they have to do it the right way,” Kimmel said. “By marrying Donald Trump!”

The monologue included a spoof television commercial claiming Trump’s three oldest children were hard-working “dreamers” who couldn’t help that they were born to a mother who immigrated from Eastern Europe.

“Tell Congress to protect these children of immigrants, no matter how terrible their parents are,” said a serious, albeit spooky narrator.

Colbert said the administration’s decision had Trump “in some deep DACA.” Footage of the news conference in which Sessions announced the end of the program included the attorney general saying the move “does not mean are bad people or that our nation disrespects or demeans them in any way.”

“You’re right Jeff,” Colbert quipped. “Deporting innocent children does not mean they’re bad people. It means you’re a bad person.”

On “The Daily Show,” Trevor Noah was also quick to note that the young people protected by DACA had no say in being brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents.

“It’s their parents, it’s not like it was their choice,” Noah said as a photo of a young boy appeared on the screen. Assuming the voice of a young child, Noah said “No Mama, you go on without me. I’m going to stay in Honduras and uphold the law. You go on. You go on. I know what Jeff Sessions wants me to do, Mama. I’m staying here.”

Soon after, Noah recapped numerous politicians, business and tech leaders who have publicly supported DACA’s major contributions to the national economy.

“I’ll tell you this, if Amazon says you can’t return something, then you know you’re doing something wrong,” he said.

Seth Meyers suggested Trump hid behind his attorney general while simultaneously urging Congress to act through a single tweet:

“Trump ends every tweet like he’s jumping out from behind a door to scare you,” Meyers said.

But he was more serious on the subject of Trump’s repeated assurances that “dreamers” would be taken care of by his administration. In January, Trump said “dreamers” “shouldn’t be very worried … I do have a big heart. We’re going to take care of everybody.”

Near the end of his monologue, Colbert revived a fleeting but viral moment from Tuesday’s White House briefing in which press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders accidentally referred to President Obama instead of President Trump while describing how DACA’s repeal would unfold. Reading a prepared statement, Sanders corrected herself by saying “Sorry, President Trump.”

“It’s ok, we’re sorry he’s president too,” Colbert said with a grin.

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