Trump sup­ports GOP im­mi­gra­tion plan

Trump re­jects lim­ited ap­proach to ‘dream­ers.’

Dayton Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - By Ed O’Keefe and David Naka­mura

Pres­i­dent re­it­er­ated his sup­port just as a bi­par­ti­san group of sen­a­tors said they’re close to re­leas­ing an al­ter­na­tive plan.

Pres­i­dent WASHINGTON —

Don­ald Trump re­it­er­ated his sup­port Wed­nes­day for a Repub­li­can plan to re­vamp the na­tion’s im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem and threat­ened to veto any other pro­posal - just as a bi­par­ti­san group of sen­a­tors said they’re on the verge of re­leas­ing an al­ter­na­tive plan.

In a White House state­ment, Trump urged the Se­nate to back the pro­posal, say­ing it ac­com­plishes his vi­sion for im­mi­gra­tion. At the same time, the pres­i­dent re­jected any lim­ited ap­proach that deals only with “dream­ers” - im­mi­grants who have been in the coun­try il­le­gally since they were chil­dren - and border se­cu­rity.

Trump’s full-throated en­dorse­ment of leg­is­la­tion un­veiled this week by a GOP group led by Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Charles Grass­ley, R-Iowa, comes as a group of bi­par­ti­san sen­a­tors worked on a pos­si­ble so­lu­tion to the in­tractable is­sue that could earn enough sup­port in the closely di­vided Se­nate.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., who has been co-host­ing the bi­par­ti­san talks with Sen. Su­san Collins, R-Maine, and about 20 other sen­a­tors, said that the group should have a pro­posal ready to in­tro­duce by late af­ter­noon.

“We’ll have some­thing and it’ll have quite a few co-spon­sors - bi­par­ti­san,” he said, de­clin­ing to share other de­tails.

Even if the group un­veils a long-an­tic­i­pated pro­posal, there is no guar­an­tee that it will earn a vote on the Se­nate floor, or the req­ui­site 60 votes needed to ad­vance leg­is­la­tion.

And Trump’s lat­est warn­ings might de­ter mem­bers of both par­ties anx­ious about de­bat­ing such an emo­tion­ally fraught is­sue at the start of an election year.

Trump said in his state­ment that he is “ask­ing all sen­a­tors, in both par­ties, to sup­port the Grass­ley bill and to op­pose any leg­is­la­tion that fails to ful­fill these four pil­lars - that in­cludes op­pos­ing any short-term ‘BandAid’ ap­proach.”

Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., also has backed the GOP plan, and most Repub­li­cans ap­peared to be ral­ly­ing be­hind the pro­posal by Grass­ley and six other GOP sen­a­tors Tues­day.

It ful­fills Trump’s calls to le­gal­ize 1.8 mil­lion dream­ers, im­me­di­ately au­tho­rizes spend­ing at least $25 bil­lion to bol­ster de­fenses along the U.S.-Mex­ico border, makes changes to fam­ily-based le­gal im­mi­gra­tion pro­grams and ends a di­ver­sity lot­tery sys­tem used by im­mi­grants from smaller coun­tries.

On a con­fer­ence call with re­porters, se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials said the pres­i­dent had made sig­nif­i­cant con­ces­sions to Se­nate Democrats. Last fall, Trump ter­mi­nated the Obama-era De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals (DACA), which had pro­vided tem­po­rary work per­mits to about 690,000 dream­ers. White House of­fi­cials em­pha­sized that Trump’s plan al­lows far more dream­ers to pur­sue the path to cit­i­zen­ship.

But they added that the border se­cu­rity pro­vi­sions and the cuts to le­gal im­mi­gra­tion chan­nels are re­quired to stem il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion, re­duce a lengthy back­log in the green card process and re­duce im­mi­gra­tion lev­els that, the White House ar­gues, have harmed Amer­i­can work­ers.

“Democrats say, ‘Less for Amer­i­cans, more for il­le­gal im­mi­grants,’” said one ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial. “We went as far as we could in that di­rec­tion, but any more and the House would never take up the bill and the pres­i­dent would not be able to sign it. It would be a waste of the Se­nate’s time and a waste of Amer­i­cans’ time.”

Law­mak­ers have been ne­go­ti­at­ing un­der the premise that the bulk of DACA work per­mits will be­gin to ex­pire March 5 - a dead­line Trump set last fall aimed at giv­ing Congress time to de­velop a leg­isla­tive so­lu­tion for DACA re­cip­i­ents. But judges in Cal­i­for­nia and New York have is­sued tem­po­rary in­junc­tions, re­quir­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to restart the pro­gram.

The Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity has done so and the Jus­tice Depart­ment has taken the un­usual step of pe­ti­tion­ing the Supreme Court to hear the case with­out it go­ing through the stan­dard ap­peals process. The high court could an­nounce as early as Fri­day whether it will do so or kick the mat­ter back to the lower courts, which could mean a longer process un­til the mat­ter is re­solved.

Democrats strongly op­pose the Grass­ley plan.

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said the bill un­fairly tar­gets fam­ily-based im­mi­gra­tion and that mak­ing such broad changes as part of a plan to le­gal­ize fewer than 2 mil­lion peo­ple “makes no sense.”

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