Hours after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate would act on Congress’s immigration compromise as soon as they figure out where, exactly, Trump stands on the issue, the president has supplied what appears to be a definitive answer...
And it’s that the deal worked out by a bipartisan group of senators - a deal that was presented to Trump during the meeting last week where he allegedly referred to El Salvador, Haiti and a host of African countries as “shitholes” - falls far short of what Trump’s base believes should happen.
The bipartisan bill will purportedly include provisions that enshrine the DACA protections for illegal immigrants who were brought to the US as minors in exchange for funding for increased border security. The White House has asked for $18 billion to begin construction on Trump's promised border wall.
Trump elaborated on his position regarding Congress’s immigration reform proposal during an interview with Reuters published Wednesday afternoon. The interview was conducted earlier this week.
In the interview, Trump said he thinks a deal on immigration is still possible. “Time is running out.” He added that a government shutdown “could happen” at the end of the week, insisting Democrats would take the blame if it happens - though Trump did not rule out signing a short-term spending measure by a Friday deadline to prevent a shutdown.
Trump abruptly canceled protections for the so-called “Dreamers” back in September, leaving 690,000 mostly Hispanic adults vulnerable to deportation. However, the White House said earlier this week that it would continue processing requests for protected status while several lawsuits wend through the legal system. A judge from the ninth circuit earlier this month ruled that the protections must remain in place until the legal issue is resolved.
They were initially slated to expire in March.
Trump has said he is open to finding a solution to help the Dreamers. But he said he was less than pleased with the compromise plan presented to him by Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Dick Durbin.
Durbin has been a target of Trump’s ire since he told reporters that he heard Trump make the infamous “shithole” remark during a meeting - something that Senator Tom Cotton, who was also present, has denied. However, Graham intimated to a group of reporters that Trump did say something wildly inappropriate along those lines, though he declined to confirm the specific remark.
Senator Dicky Durbin totally misrepresented what was said at the DACA meeting. Deals can’t get made when there is no trust! Durbin blew DACA and is hurting our Military.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 15, 2018
We must have Security at our VERY DANGEROUS SOUTHERN BORDER, and we must have a great WALL to help protect us, and to help stop the massive inflow of drugs pouring into our country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 16, 2018
Trump told Reuters he called Cotton, David Perdue and Republican Representative Bob Goodlatte to join him to hear the proposal at the White House, describing them as "smart guys, with more of a conservative bent, more of a bent like I have."
He ultimately agreed with Cotton and Perdue, who felt the compromise was too weak.
“It’s horrible for the security of our country,” Trump said, noting there was not enough funding for a wall he has promised to build on the U.S.-Mexican border, a project opposed by Democrats.
The proposal was “very, very weak” on curbing visas for extended family members of immigrants, and failed to end a diversity visa lottery program.
“Lindsey - he meant well - but I said, ‘Well, how many Republicans agree with this?'” Trump said.
Trump blamed Durbin for leaking the language he used in the meeting, a disclosure that prompted critics to denounce Trump as a racist, an accusation he denied.
“I’ve lost all trust in Durbin,” Trump said.
Trump’s hard line on immigration famously helped set him apart during the early days of the 2016 race. His proposal to build a border wall ended becoming one of the most emblematic policy proposals, inspiring chants of “build the wall” at his rallies.
However, his executive orders seeking to limit immigration from several Muslim majority countries have repeatedly met with challenges from the courts. His most recent order involves using more targeted criteria to stop travelers from six of the original “Muslim ban” countries plus North Korea and Iran.