Donald Trump is apparently so pleased with the reception his migrant detention centers are getting that he’s looking into forcing homeless people into federal hands, too. Trump is specifically targeting homelessness in California, because Fox News has been harping on it and because portraying a heavily Democratic state as hopelessly dirty and in need of federal intervention is likely to appeal to his base.
“Administration officials have discussed using the federal government to get homeless people off the streets of Los Angeles and other cities and into new government-backed facilities, according to two officials briefed on the planning,” The Washington Post reports, adding that “it is unclear how they could accomplish this and what legal authority they would use.”
It’s the Trump administration. Lack of legal authority has never been an issue for them—and Trump’s pet Supreme Court justices would doubtless discover sweeping new federal powers to imprison people should he demand it. But it’s likely that the goal here is less to accomplish anything than to spread the message that liberals are dirty. As a White House spokesman put it, “Like many Americans, the president has taken notice of the homelessness crisis, particularly in cities and states where the liberal policies are combining to dramatically increase poverty and public health risks.”
Most of the states with the highest poverty rates are red, but you don’t hear Trump aides talking about what Mississippi and Louisiana are doing to “dramatically increase poverty.” And California ranks just outside the top 10 on public health measures. Details, details. There’s a blue state to be smeared through association with homelessness.
So no, Donald Trump is unlikely to succeed at forcing California’s homeless population into federal camps anytime soon. But the fact that he’s talking about it shows where his 2020 campaign is going to take the nation.