In This Review

Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration
Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration
By Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Michael D. Shear
480 pp, Simon & Schuster, 2019

Ever since a staffer hit on the idea of “build a fence” as a mnemonic to remind candidate Donald Trump to talk about immigration at his rallies, the groundwork was laid for immigration policy to become the “beating heart” of Trump’s presidency. The Muslim travel ban, the crackdown on undocumented immigrants, the cuts in the number of refugees accepted, the much-invoked wall, the inveighing against caravans of migrants, and the calculated cruelty of the family-separation policy have dominated news cycles for almost three years. Davis and Shear, New York Times reporters who have long covered these subjects, wisely saved much of their best material for this book. They have assembled here a view from within the White House, including through accounts of interactions with the president that verge on the surreal. Trump’s immigration policies stem from impulse, ignorance about substance and legality, deep bigotry, and—their saving grace—bureaucratic chaos and incredible ineptitude. The book reveals much about how Trump thinks, why he instinctively “grasped for the solution that looked toughest,” and, in hair-raising insider detail, how he governs from day to day. If journalism is the first draft of history, this volume is a solid second draft.