Ayesha Rascoe and Roberta Rampton, Reuters, January 17, 2018
President Donald Trump on Wednesday aligned himself solidly with conservative Republicans on immigration, criticizing a proposed bipartisan deal as “horrible” on U.S. border security and “very, very weak” on reforms for the legal immigration system.
The Senate proposal — aimed at addressing Democrats’ demands for protections for young adults brought to the United States illegally as children and dubbed “Dreamers” – fell far short of what most Republicans believe needs to happen, the president said.
The plan was presented to Trump last week by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Dick Durbin.
Many Democrats have said they will not vote for spending legislation to keep the federal government funded past a Friday deadline without an immigration deal, and Republicans will need at least some Democratic votes to pass the funding extension in the Senate.
Trump said he thinks a deal on immigration is still possible. “Time is running out,” he said.
Democrats said the negotiated plan addressed Trump priorities, including $2.7 billion for additional border security funding.
Trump said a federal government shutdown “could happen” at the end of the week, insisting Democrats would be blamed if that occurs even though Republicans control both chambers of Congress and the White House.
Trump has said he is open to finding a solution to help the Dreamers. But he said he became unhappy when Graham and Durbin, who had told him they had a compromise on the Dreamers issue, presented the details.
As Graham and Durbin began describing the deal, Trump said, it was immediately clear it would be unacceptable to most Republicans.
“It’s horrible for the security of our country,” Trump said, noting there was not enough funding for the 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.
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.