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U.S. President Donald Trump looks to be taking his fight over immigration and the southern border to a new level. In late March, he threatened to close the U.S.-Mexico border, in response to a surge in illegal immigration that has swamped American authorities along the frontier. Then he pulled his own nominee to run Immigration and Customs Enforcement in hopes of finding someone “tougher.” And last week he reportedly forced the resignation of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on the grounds that she, too, was soft on illegal immigration. Now we are told he is planning to resume the family separation policy that provoked widespread global condemnation when it was first pursued in 2018, although Trump has denied he will reinstate the policy.

Given Trump’s tendency to fulminate rhetorically and then settle for far less than he initially demanded, things may yet settle down. But this series of events nonetheless highlights four key characteristics of Trump’s presidency — characteristics that are not only causing disruption at home but diminishing America’s competence and reputation abroad.

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