David Martosko, Daily Mail, November 3, 2017
Donald Trump laid down an immigration marker on Thursday, saying that if congressional Democrats want to maintain an Obama-era initiative protecting so-called ‘Dreamers’ from deportation, there will be at least two strings attached.
The president told Fox News host Laura Ingraham that initial funding for a border wall and a ban on ‘chain migration’ will be pre-conditions of any deal to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Trump formally ended DACA in September but gave Congress six months to write it into law, a move that now appears to be a ploy for negotiating leverage.
Hanging in the balance are as many as 800,000 people who were brought across the border illegally as children; many arrived as infants.
Under chain-migration policies, immigrants granted legal visas to enter the United States may sponsor family members to follow them.
Most GOP lawmakers are coalescing around a proposal under which sponsors would only be able to get green cards for their spouses and minor children.
Changing the policy ‘will be part of a DACA deal,’ Trump said Thursday.
‘I don’t think any Republican would vote for anything having to do with leaving chain migration. Chain migration is a disaster for this country, and it’s horrible,’ he said.
The issue has become front-page news since the revelation that New York terror suspect Sayfullo Saipov may have sponsored as many as 23 people since he entered the U.S. on a ‘diversity lottery’ visa in 2010.
Trump’s promised border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, too, will be a prerequisite Democrats will have to go along with.
‘The wall is actually coming along pretty well. That will also be a part of DACA or whatever,’ he said.
Ingraham pressed him on whether he will demand enough government money to complete the construction, or only a mere ‘down payment.’
‘When we get the down payment we’re going to have a guarantee, believe me. We’re not taking a down payment and then saying, “Where’s the rest of the money?”‘ Trump insisted.
‘When we take a down payment, I’m going say, “I want to make sure the rest of the money is coming”.’
He predicted that the project will cost $18 billion, covering sections of wall where natural geographic barriers don’t already exist separating the U.S. from its neighbor south of the border.
‘They’re saying the wall’s going to cost $40 billion. It’s not going to cost anywhere near that. The Democrats are saying [that]. We’re talking about less than half,’ he said.
‘I think for $18 billion or less we’re going to have a great wall. We’re doing prototypes right now.’
It’s unclear when the collision of immigration priorities will occur on Capitol Hill, but it’s increasingly unlikely to come until 2018.
Some GOP senators told the Associated Press after a White House meeting on Thursday that the president had agreed not to attach the issues to a must-pass spending bill scheduled for year’s end.
Democrats have indicated that they want to use the budget legislation to force the issue, threatening to hold it up if a DACA fix isn’t included.
‘No immigration bill on the omnibus or any other must-pass piece of legislation in 2017,’ said Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, explaining that Trump had ‘agreed to that, as does the Senate leadership, and I think the vast majority of Republican senators.’
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said using the so-called ‘omnibus’ spending bill to resolve the status of Dreamers was ‘the pipe dream of some Democrats.’
‘It’s more likely than not to be part of a January-February time frame,’ Cornyn said.