Whenever the parties quibble over immigration, things get weird faster than you can say: "Que paso?"
President Donald Trump addressed the nation on border security after hedging on whether to force the issue and holding an off-the-record meeting with television anchors where he admitted, according to reports, that he didn't see the point of his own address.
In their response, Democrats -- who were in favor of border barriers before they were against them -- claimed to care about border security as much as the next party but then sidestepped border enforcement and emphasized what they really care about: ending the government shutdown.
You can't make this stuff up.
During his remarks, Trump called the situation on the U.S.-Mexico border a "humanitarian crisis, a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul."
That's a lot of emoting from someone who, before he ran for president, appeared to give little thought to Latinos, immigrants, or Mexico -- except for the time he told a Venezuelan beauty queen to lose weight. The closest Trump got to Latin America was digging into a taco bowl on Cinco de Mayo.
And now, it seems as if Latinos are all Trump thinks about. We live in his head without a visa. In fact, he wants to save our women and children from being trafficked. Make way for our savior, St. Donald.
If he wants to heal broken hearts and bruised souls, Trump can start by owning up to his inhumane policy of punishing migrants and refugees by kidnapping their children. South of the border, this is a familiar story. Kids are often snatched to encourage parents to pay debts or commit crimes. But, it turns out, the narcos have nothing on the Trump cartel.
The president packed an hour's worth of fear into about 10 minutes of air time. Although, he didn't offer anything new.
He demanded that House Democrats give him what House GOP budget hawks refused to give him for two years: $5.7 billion to pay for new barriers along a portion of the border. He also wants additional funding for the latest technology, more Border Patrol agents, new immigration judges, and some humanitarian relief to refugees and migrants.
The big-ticket item is what Trump promised supporters would be a "big, beautiful wall" paid for by Mexico, which now won't be big, beautiful or paid for by anyone but U.S. taxpayers.
Talking about how wealthy people have walls and fences around their homes, Trump said: "They don't build walls because they hate the people on the outside, but because they love the people on the inside."
Fine. But I have a fence around my backyard not just because I love my family. It's also because I fear what could happen if I don't protect them, and because I fear what other people are capable of if they had easy access to my home. Walls and fences aren't just about love. They're also about fear.
Trump knows all about fear. He feeds on it. He argues that immigrants and refugees are dangerous, even deadly. According to him, these people aren't coming to cut lawns but to kill cops, not to clean our homes but to violate our wives and daughters, not to care for our elderly but to rob us blind.
Good luck selling that nonsense. Immigrants might be spookier if millions of Americans weren't inviting them into our homes, giving them access to our gated communities and handing them our children.
Here's the weird part: Even if you agree that there's a crisis and a wall can solve it, Trump is the wrong person to make that case.
For one thing, he has no moral standing. The real magnet on the U.S.-Mexico border isn't welfare but work — jobs provided by American employers who, in violation of the law, hire illegal immigrants who work hard, don't complain and don't act like they're doing the boss a favor by showing up.
Trump properties have previously hired illegal immigrants as construction workers, housekeepers, cooks and wait staff. Now that the owner occupies the Oval Office, his businesses are being more careful. Last summer, his Mar-a-Lago club requested several dozen visas to bring in foreign workers.
Besides, despite his bluster, Trump doesn't seem all that wedded to the wall. He brings it up whenever he needs to stir, or distract, the base. Then he stalls, fails to deliver and can't wait to compromise. Still, the base won't budge. They keep the pressure on.
What now? Walls are supposed to keep people out. But, in this case, it's Trump who is penned in.
Reach Ruben Navarrette at email@example.com.