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100 Days of Trump’s Washington

For anyone who lives in Washington, it was clear Donald Trump campaigned against the city in two ways. He ran against “Washington,” the metaphorical seat of unchecked government power, and also against the actual city of Washington, a multicultural, Democratic stronghold that embraces immigration, marijuana and seemingly every other progressive policy Trump’s voters rejected. Since the inauguration,

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Lawmakers sing DeMint’s praises ahead of ouster

Jim DeMint is pictured. | AP Photo

Jim DeMint was a high-profile agitator in the Senate, supporting conservative primary challengers to candidates backed by the party establishment. | AP Photo

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DeMint set to be ousted from Heritage Foundation

Jim DeMint is pictured. | Getty

Jim DeMint has injected Heritage into a number of high-profile, high-stakes policy wars in the first 100-days of the Trump presidency. | Getty

The controversial president of The Heritage Foundation, former Sen. Jim DeMint, may soon be out of a job, following a dispute with board members about the direction of conservative think tank, according to three people with knowledge of the situation.

Some Heritage board members believe that DeMint has brought in too many Senate allies and made the think tank too bombastic and political — to the detriment of its research and scholarly aims.

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“He has been a congressman and senator. They are solo performers. When you are in the Senate, life is all about the senators,” said one board member, who asked for anonymity to speak candidly about DeMint’s situation. “CEO skills are different than senator skills. I think it boils down to attributes. I don’t think it is particularly personal.”

DeMint has been in contract negotiations, which are expected to be cut short, the sources said. An announcement about his future at Heritage is expected to come as early as Friday. His contract is up at the end of 2017, according to one board member.

A GOP operative who works closely with heritage said DeMint's removal as president was imminent and that more changes are expected to follow. "There's massive turmoil over there right now," the operative said.

DeMint could not immediately be reached for comment. Reached by phone, the chairman of the Heritage board, Thomas Saunders, said he was too busy at the moment to talk.

Former Heritage president Ed Feulner is expected to take over as interim president, according to one House Freedom Caucus member. Feulner did not respond to requests for comment.

Researchers and policy experts inside Heritage have not been clued in to the possible leadership change, according to interviews with a handful of them, though there has been a sense inside the building that something is afoot.

“If Heritage pushes Jim DeMint out, it was because a few board members, who are close to the Republican establishment, never wanted him to be president and have been working to push him out ever since,” said one operative who has worked with Heritage. “DeMint is one of the most respected and selfless conservative leaders in the country and pushing him out would be a big mistake.”

In recent months, DeMint has raised the profile of the think tank by closely aligning it with President Donald Trump. Last July, DeMint met with Trump transition officials for several hours and made it clear that if Trump won, he wanted to have a close working relationship with the administration.

DeMint allowed the think tank’s employees to join the Trump transition team while keeping their day jobs. Many did, and they fed policy ideas to an ideologically flexible, fledgling administration.

A handful of Heritage policy wonks took White House jobs, including budget expert Paul Winfree, now No. 2 at the Domestic Policy Council. Winfree

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Trump's immigration crackdown is well underway

President Donald Trump has systematically engineered a major crackdown on immigration during his first 100 days in office — even as courts reject his executive orders and Congress nears a spending deal that will deny him funding for a wall along the southern border.

The number of arrests on the U.S.-Mexico border plummeted in March to the lowest level in 17 years — a strong suggestion that Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric is scaring away foreigners who might otherwise try to enter the United States illegally. In addition, part of a lesser-known executive order that Trump signed in January gave federal immigration agents broad leeway to arrest virtually any undocumented immigrant they encounter.

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Granted, Trump's splashiest immigration promises — the border wall and two successive bans on immigrants from various majority-Muslim nations — have been stymied by Congress and the courts. And Tuesday, Trump received another setback when a district court judge blocked a directive denying federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to help enforce federal immigration laws.

But the president has nonetheless reshaped the nation’s immigration policy substantially.

“Even without putting down one single brick,” said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group that favors lower immigration levels, “Trump has dramatically altered the flow across the southern border.”

Businesses that use foreign workers, worried they’ll get singled out by federal agents during a visa review, are starting to explore the possibility of recruiting domestic labor. Trump’s enforcement policies are affecting higher education, too, with early signs suggesting foreign students are less likely to apply to U.S. colleges and universities. Nearly 40 percent of colleges and universities surveyed by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers reported a decline in international applications, and almost 80 percent said they fielded particular concerns from students in the Middle East. International students are, among other things, an important source of revenue for colleges, since typically they pay sticker price on tuition and fees.

To longtime advocates for undocumented immigrants, the change is less about numbers than about who's being targeted.

“They’ve really changed the priorities from really going after the bad hombres to going after grandpas and people who have no criminal records whatsoever,” said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.). “In essence, they’ve put fear and panic in the immigrant community.”

The interior enforcement executive order that Trump signed during his first week in office dumped the Obama administration’s practice of prioritizing the arrests of serious criminals — a policy that allowed low-level immigration offenders to fly below the radar.

“The agents that I’ve talked to over the past few months have said that they feel that they can go out and enforce the law again, whereas they had many limitations on them over the past eight years,” said John Torres, chief operating officer at the consulting firm Guidepost Solutions and acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement during the George W. Bush administration. “If they encounter someone who is out of status,

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Trump’s Executive Orders Are Mostly Theater

Trump’s Executive Orders Are Mostly TheaterPresident Donald Trump signed his first executive order on his first day in the White House, taking aim at his predecessor’s signature achievement. “Trump Signs Executive Order to Roll Back Obamacare,” Forbes reported. He’s gone on to sign more executive orders in his first 100 days than any president since Franklin D. Roosevelt, and his aides, his critics, and the media alike have portrayed them as dramatic assaults on the status quo. “Trump Moves to Roll Back Obama-Era Financial Regulations,” the New York Times declared after one. “Trump Executive Order Will Undo Obama’s Clean Power Plan,” USA Today reported after another.

But 99 days into his presidency, Trump’s high-profile orders have not actually undone Obama’s health reforms, financial regulations, or carbon restrictions. They’ve merely allowed him to announce his intentions to undo those policies in official documents. Trump’s first 30 executive orders will create a lot of federal reviews and reports, along with some new task forces and commissions, but not a lot of substantive change. So far, they’ve been more about messaging than governing, proclaiming his priorities without really advancing his priorities.

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The White House is making Trump’s flurry of executive orders the centerpiece of his 100-day legacy, in part because he hasn’t yet signed any major new laws or made much specific progress on his Make America Great Again policy agenda. And his orders have echoed his rhetoric about trade, regulations, crime, and other policy issues, which has given them the appearance of promises kept. But a close look at the language of his orders shows that most of them are basically press releases with presidential signatures, plus instructions to his Cabinet secretaries to look into the issues at hand.

Trump’s order on reorganizing the government simply directed his budget director to devise a plan for reorganizing the government. His order on the opioid crisis set up a commission. His orders on rebuilding the military, streamlining permits for manufacturers, and preventing violence against law enforcement instructed Cabinet secretaries to devise plans to achieve those goals—which they were presumably supposed to do anyway. His orders on trade deficits, drug cartels and burdensome tax regulations called for reports on those issues, essentially homework assignments issued on national television. Yesterday, as he signed an order regarding aluminum imports, he complained that foreign dumping was destroying the U.S. industry. But his order—like a similar one he signed last week about steel imports—did not impose any retaliatory duties; it just called for expediting an ongoing investigation of the issue.

This has become a predictable pattern, especially as the 100-day milestone has approached and the White House has been on the prowl for quick victories. On Wednesday, Trump held an Oval Office ceremony to sign an order he hailed as a blow against federal control of education, even though it merely directed his education secretary to make sure her department’s regulations comply with existing laws prohibiting federal control of education. That same day, Trump signed an order that he declared would

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