White House to press for wall, tough im­mi­gra­tion laws

The Fresno Bee - - Obituaries & News - BY FRANCO ORDOÑEZ AND ANDREA DRUSCH for­donez@mc­clatchydc.com adr­usch@mc­clatchydc.com


The White House is rac­ing to fin­ish a sweep­ing new im­mi­gra­tion plan fo­cused on en­force­ment that could be in­tro­duced be­fore Democrats take con­trol of the House. It would in­clude fund­ing for the bor­der wall, re­stric­tions on asy­lum and cuts to le­gal im­mi­gra­tion, ac­cord­ing to four peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the plans.

But the plan is al­ready re­ceiv­ing push­back from fac­tions within the West Wing who are urg­ing the pres­i­dent to agree to a more mod­er­ate plan that would limit cuts to le­gal im­mi­gra­tion and pro­tect young im­mi­grants who came to the United States as chil­dren.

“There is a schism within the White House over this is­sue,” said Jes­sica Vaughn, a for­mer State Depart­ment for­eign ser­vice of­fi­cer and di­rec­tor of pol­icy stud­ies at the Cen­ter for Im­mi­gra­tion Stud­ies. “There are some folks who think it’s im­por­tant to push those pro­vi­sions now un­der the guise of merit-based im­mi­gra­tion re­form. And oth­ers who are op­posed to that. They want the em­pha­sis to be on en­force­ment.”

This lat­est en­force­ment pro­posal would par­tially serve as a per­ma­nent leg­isla­tive change to mea­sures Pres­i­dent Donald Trump took Thurs­day to con­front the car­a­van of mi­grants near­ing the United States by in­vok­ing na­tional se­cu­rity pow­ers used to im­ple­ment last year’s “travel ban” to deny asy­lum to mi­grants who en­ter the coun­try il­le­gally.

The Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union and other le­gal groups swiftly sued in fed­eral court in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia to block the reg­u­la­tions, ar­gu­ing the mea­sures were il­le­gal, the As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported.

The plans are set­ting up a new bat­tle within the Repub­li­can Party be­tween im­mi­gra­tion hard­lin­ers, led by White House ad­viser Stephen Miller, who wants to re­write the U.S. le­gal im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem, and more cen­trist Repub­li­cans and busi­ness lead­ers who want to pro­tect the young im­mi­grants, known as Dream­ers, and pro­vide greater ac­cess to for­eign work­ers.

Democrats won con­trol of the House on Tues­day. That means Trump will be work­ing with a di­vided Congress come Jan­uary, so this is seen as a last-ditch ef­fort to craft a new im­mi­gra­tion pack­age more to his and other Repub­li­cans’ lik­ing. But any mea­sure will be dif­fi­cult to pass, es­pe­cially one fo­cused on en­force­ment, when Congress is also try­ing to avoid a govern­ment shut­down over changes in a spend­ing bill and try­ing to push through other dif­fi­cult mea­sures such as a sweep­ing farm bill.

“I think the lame-duck ses­sion of Congress is a great op­por­tu­nity to pass im­mi­gra­tion re­form, so I may still have some im­por­tant work to do when I get back,” said Rep. Car­los Curbelo, R-Fla., min­utes af­ter he con­ceded his re-elec­tion bid Tues­day. “I sure hope we have a chance. This would be the best time to do it, es­pe­cially be­cause we can prob­a­bly ex­pect more grid­lock or even worse grid­lock in the next Congress.”

Congress will be in ses­sion for 12 work days be­tween now and its holiday break – the so-called lame-duck ses­sion – and a new Congress is sworn in in Jan­uary. In that time, it has to pass a spend­ing bill be­fore Dec. 7, or the govern­ment will have to shut down with no fund­ing.

Ear­lier this year, Trump warned that a “good shut­down” may be nec­es­sary to force Democrats to agree to spend more than $20 bil­lion on a bor­der wall. But he ap­peared to back away from those threats this week af­ter see­ing the elec­tion results.

Trump told a news con­fer­ence Wed­nes­day he’s “not nec­es­sar­ily” com­mit­ted to a shut­down and in­di­cated Democrats may be will­ing to work with him.

“I speak to Democrats all the time, and they agree that a wall is nec­es­sary,” Trump said. “We want to build the whole wall at one time, not in chunks.”

Democrats are un­likely to be in a ne­go­ti­at­ing mood dur­ing the lame­duck ses­sion, given their pickup of 30 seats, so far, in Tues­day’s midterms.

Trump is seek­ing to de­crease num­bers and ad­dress a group of thou­sands of mi­grants trav­el­ing to­ward the U.S. bor­der. He used the group as a fi­nal ral­ly­ing cry as the midterm cam­paign­ing wound down, say­ing the group in­cluded crim­i­nals who made up an “in­va­sion” of the U.S. He de­ployed mil­i­tary troops to the bor­der.

He des­per­ately wants to gain fund­ing for his wall in or­der to ful­fill his sig­na­ture cam­paign prom­ise as he looks to­ward 2020.

The White House and Congress have re­peat­edly tried and failed to craft a suc­cess­ful plan that would fund the wall and pro­vide pro­tec­tions for so-called Dream­ers who have been able to work and re­main in the United States un­der the orig­i­nal De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals law.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals ruled Thurs­day that Trump can­not im­me­di­ately end the DACA pro­gram, which he tried to do last year af­ter sev­eral states threat­ened to sue to force an end to it.

Trump has also pushed a wall pro­posal that would fund the wall in ex­change for le­gal sta­tus im­me­di­ately – and later cit­i­zen­ship – to 1.8 mil­lion Dream­ers.


A group of Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants re­sume their jour­ney north Fri­day af­ter leav­ing the tem­po­rary shel­ter at the Je­sus Martinez sta­dium in Mex­ico City. About 500 peo­ple em­barked on the long­est and most dan­ger­ous leg of their jour­ney to the U.S. bor­der.

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