A new president’s first hundred days in office are all important in establishing the tone and political direction of their term. It is traditionally when a president’s power is at its highest with the perceived public mandate to enact the kind of bold sweeping changes that would be deemed too much of a risk once they are more established in the role (and more concerned with the consequences of plunging approval ratings and catastrophic mid-term elections on their long term chances of re-election). However the rules have been torn up by Trump’s still shocking electoral victory. According to a poll by Washington Post-ABC Trump entered the White House as the least popular incoming president for over four decades with an approval rating of only 45%, a figure that Trump himself has blasted on Twitter claiming that the polls are “rigged just like before” (referring to the polls which placed Hillary Clinton as certain to win the presidency).
Regardless of potential media bias, it seems safe to assume that Trump does not have to be especially worried about besmirching his reputation and as a result began his presidency with a welter of controversial executive orders ranging from the intensely controversial immigration ban for citizens of seven predominately Muslims nations to the re-activation of the heavily protested Standing Rock Pipeline. Trump has also thrown the presidency strongly behind his flagship election policy of building a wall along the Mexican border, though has radically changed his rhetoric by insinuating that it might end up being the US taxpayer who ends up paying for the wall rather than Mexico who will be made to ‘pay’ via trade tariffs.
Ironically illegal immigration across the southern border has fallen dramatically in recent years. According to Customs and Border Protection, 415,816 people were caught trying to enter the US illegally in the fiscal year that ended last September. Of those, 408,870 were caught trying to cross the southern border. That national figure is less than half the 1.1 million people caught on average annually between 1980 and 2008. Border Patrol said the trends in people seeking to illegally cross the border correlates with the trends in apprehensions. Apprehensions of Mexicans trying to enter the country illegally are near a 50-year low, according to a study by the Pew Research Centre. The Border Patrol also notes that “far fewer Mexican nationals and single adults are attempting to cross the border without authorization, while far more families and unaccompanied children are fleeing poverty and violence in Central America.”
Beyond even immigration, Trump’s central concern seems to be his war on the mainstream media, going so far as to refer to them as one of the “opposition parties” in a tweet. More than any other aspect of his presidency, this outright hostility towards journalists seems to mark Trump out as almost unique. Time will tell if the sheer weight of controversy created by the new President will be enough to force a more conciliatory approach from Trump, or whether governing via tweet will become the norm in a new and unpredictable America.