White House backs bill to halt aid to Pales­tini­ans

The Detroit News - - Front Page - From Detroit News wire ser­vices

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion de­clared its firm sup­port Thurs­day for a bill that would sus­pend U.S. fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to the Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity un­til it ends what crit­ics have de­scribed as a long-stand­ing prac­tice of re­ward­ing Pales­tini­ans who kill Amer­i­cans and Is­raelis.

The State Depart­ment an­nounce­ment comes nearly six weeks af­ter the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee backed the mea­sure. even­tual path to cit­i­zen­ship.

“We’re not look­ing at cit­i­zen­ship, we’re not look­ing at amnesty. We’re look­ing at al­low­ing peo­ple to stay here,” Trump told re­porters as he trav­eled to view hur­ri­cane dam­age in Florida. “And we’re work­ing with ev­ery­body. Repub­li­can. We’re work­ing with Demo­crat.”

“But very im­por­tantly, what we want: We have to have a wall,” Trump said. “If we don’t have a wall, we’re do­ing noth­ing.”

De­spite Trump’s de­nial, two peo­ple briefed on Wed­nes­day night’s pro­ceed­ings said that cit­i­zen­ship was ex­plic­itly men­tioned when Democrats raised the DREAM Act. Bud­get Di­rec­tor Mick Mul­vaney, who was among the group din­ing on Chi­nese food (a Schumer fa­vorite) in the White House Blue Room, spoke up that the bill does in­clude cit­i­zen­ship, ac­cord­ing to the peo­ple briefed, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity to dis­close the pri­vate pro­ceed­ings.

Whether or how Trump di­gested Mul­vaney’s state­ment was un­clear. But the pos­ture struck by Ryan and oth­ers on Capi­tol Hill seemed de­signed to pro­tect the pres­i­dent from a back­lash from his con­ser­va­tive base. Ryan en­er­get­i­cally dis­puted the idea that any deal had been struck, though his ar­gu­ment seemed to turn largely on se­man­tic dis­tinc­tions.

“Th­ese were dis­cus­sions not ne­go­ti­a­tions, there isn’t an agree­ment,” Ryan said. “The pres­i­dent wasn’t ne­go­ti­at­ing a deal last night. The pres­i­dent was talk­ing with Demo­cratic lead­ers to get their per­spec­tive. I think the pres­i­dent un­der­stands that he’s go­ing to have to work with the con­gres­sional ma­jori­ties to get any kind of leg­isla­tive so­lu­tion.”

For their part, im­mi­grant ad­vo­cates and Latino law­mak­ers re­acted cau­tiously.

Rep. Ruben Gal­lego, D-Ariz., a leader of the Con­gres­sional His­panic Cau­cus, said the cau­cus hasn’t seen any de­tails, and “we’re not go­ing to trade the pro­tec­tion of Dream­ers for the de­por­ta­tion of oth­ers.”

“I don’t think the pres­i­dent ac­tu­ally un­der­stands what he’s say­ing half the time,” Gal­lego said. “So I’m afraid that if you strike a deal with him, that he’ll go back on his word at any point.”

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