White House reverses Trump, says he will sign GOP leaders' immigration bill

Arturo Kim
June 20, 2018

President Donald Trump won't take responsibility for the consequences of an immigration policy that is separating children from parents who are arrested for illegally crossing the U.S. -Mexico border.

The White House continues to insist that it is a Democratic law forcing them to separate parents and children.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., confer during a news conference following a closed-door GOP meeting on immigration last week.

Trump on Monday falsely blamed Democrats - the minority party in Washington - for obstructing legislation to fix the situation. In a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday, 55 percent of Republicans said they support the policy of separating children from their parents if some families seeking asylum crossed the border illegally, later requesting asylum. It is awful: "at least 2,000 children ripped from their parents' arms, sometimes literally, in just the first six weeks", the editorial board wrote. Under U.S. protocol, if parents are jailed, their children are separated from them because the children aren't charged with a crime. But the administration has unsuccessfully pushed to overhaul President Barack Obama's health care law and has struggled to develop compromise legislation on immigration. "Children belong with their families", he said.

The zero-tolerance policy was announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in April.

The section on sanctuary policies - tucked near the end of the 293-page draft released this week - is the latest example of the Trump administration's war on cities such as Oakland and San Jose and states such as California that protect undocumented immigrants. "The casual attitude that they're having about this ... they could weigh in with the administration and stop it on a dime". One of them, the Goodlatte bill, the other is something more moderate. It's unclear whether the leadership's alternative can pass, either.

The Goodlatte bill has zero chance of getting out of the House, let alone passing the Senate, where it will need at least a handful of Democrats to clear a cloture vote. One includes hard-line provisions catering to the House GOP's conservative wing; the other will try to bridge the gap between conservatives and moderates.

"We don't need to vote on both of these at the same time", the Virginia Republican said. "I do hope this passes".

"There is no law that requires families to be separated at the border", Reid said. "You can still make handprints in it, you can still write your name in it".

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Under the proposal, some 700,000 DACA recipients, as well as a broader group of young people who didn't register for the program, could apply for legal status, which would be valid for six years and renewable "indefinitely".

Recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program can apply for "6-year indefinitely renewable contingent nonimmigrant legal status", so long as they came to the USA before June 15, 2007 and were under age 31 when the program when the program began on June 15, 2012.

The bill would also end per country visa limits while maintaining the current cap on visas, meaning the number of new immigrants allowed into the country would be reduced as visas are granted to DREAMers. Referred to as "dreamers", they are functionally American in every way except in their legal status.

In return, the proposal would eliminate several existing visa programs.

The compromise bill in the House shifts away from the nation's longtime preference for family immigration to a new system that prioritizes entry based on merits and skills.

In both cases, Trump said he backed certain policies, only to turn around later and blast the same idea - and those who voted for them - on Twitter. "But, they're certainly not going to use mothers nursing their babies as a draw". The other one was being negotiated with some conservatives. None spoke in support of the bill.

Instead, the House this week will take up a harsh measure offered by the nativist chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and a politically motivated "compromise" the Republican leadership is trying to cobble together. "The President misunderstood the question this morning on Fox News", an unnamed White House official told The Hill in an email.

"The Democrats have to change their law, that's their law", he repeated, even when reporters told him that was untrue.

Local sanctuary jurisdictions said they'd stand up to the bill.

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