White House to press for tough immigration laws, border wall
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 meritbased 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 two 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.
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.