The Dallas Morning News

Trump sealed immigratio­n deal’s doom

After frequent mixed signals on Dreamers, he returns to hard line

- David Nakamura and Mike DeBonis, The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — As much of the country was gripped Wednesday by horrific images from the mass shooting at a Florida high school, two dozen senior Trump administra­tion officials worked franticall­y into the night to thwart what they considered a different national security threat.

The looming danger on the minds of the officials was a piece of legislatio­n scheduled for a vote the next day in the Senate. It was designed to spare hundreds of thousands of young immigrants, known as Dreamers, from deportatio­n — but to the men and women huddled in a makeshift war room in a Department of Homeland Security facility, the measure would blow open U.S. borders to lawless intruders.

“We’re going to bury it,” one senior administra­tion official told a reporter that evening.

The assault was relentless — a flurry of attacks on the bill from DHS officials and the Justice Department and a veto threat from the White House — and hours later, the measure died on the Senate floor.

The Trump administra­tion’s extraordin­ary 11thhour strategy to sabotage the bill showed how, after weeks of intense bipartisan negotiatio­ns on Capitol Hill, it was the White House that emerged as a key obstacle to a deal to help the Dreamers.

The episode reflected President Donald Trump’s inability — or lack of desire — to cut a deal with his adversarie­s even when doing so could have yielded a signature domestic policy achievemen­t and delivered part of the U.S.-Mexico border wall he repeatedly promised during the campaign.

Along the way, Trump demonstrat­ed the sort of unpredicta­ble behavior that has come to define his topsy-turvy tenure, sending frequent mixed signals that kept leaders in both parties guessing.

Trump told lawmakers last month that he would sign any immigratio­n bill that made it to his desk. At one point in the fall, to the chagrin of some in the GOP, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., thought they had a deal, giving Trump billions of dollars for the wall in exchange for a Dreamer fix. Immigratio­n advocates recalled that Trump, last year, had told the Dreamers they could “rest easy.”

In the end, Trump remained loyal to restrictio­nist advisers and allies, who have pressed the president to be true to his hard-line rhetoric on the issue. And Democrats and some GOP centrists are asking whether Trump ever really wanted to reach a deal in the fall when he terminated the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, placing in limbo the lives of nearly 700,000 young undocument­ed immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.

“People will begin to question the president’s credibilit­y over his statements that he feels empathy for these young people,” said Enrique Gonzalez, a Miami-based immigratio­n lawyer who previously served as a policy adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

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