Senate reaches bipartisan DACA deal, but Trump vows to veto anything short of his demands

The president is laying down his conditions for an immigration deal: My way or the highway

Published February 14, 2018 12:11PM (EST)

 (Getty/Joe Raedle)
(Getty/Joe Raedle)

Sen. Lindsey Graham has unveiled key details of the immigration legislation drafted by bipartisan Senate lawmakers. But the deal could prove to be meaningless, as President Donald Trump has indicated a refusal to budge on an immigration deal, and he's already eager to point the finger at Democrats.

The deal, proposed Wednesday, would cover undocumented immigrants who fell under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — otherwise known as DACA. It would also feature money for border security, which is a deviation from proposals made by the White House.

But a senior Trump administration official on Tuesday night told Axios that the president "will veto any bill that doesn’t advance his common-sense immigration reforms," adding, "The White House has claimed the mainstream, middle ground on immigration."

The details released on Wednesday morning show that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle could come to terms on a deal that actually worked for both sides. The proposal guarantees a path to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants, but requires major concessions by the Democrats. But the White House has been playing by its own rules: massive cuts to legal immigration limits, the end of the family reunification system (which Trump called "chain migration") and the end of the immigration lottery system.

An administration official appeared confident in the strategy and predicted that the Democrats would be "be walking into a political suicide march," if they resisted the White House's demands, Axios reported.

But that puts the White House directly at odds with the new deal reached by the Senate. Graham even said that Trump's proposal is not going to have enough votes to pass.

"Probably it falls short," Graham said, according to Politico. "We’re not going to cut legal immigration by a third."

If Trump is going to play hardball, maybe it's time for Democrats to respond likewise — especially if Trump, as liberals have alleged, has negotiated in bad faith. The president has changed his positions on numerous occasions and ignited the DACA feud in the first place by punting the issue over to Congress.


Greg Sargent of The Washington Post wrote: "The idea that the tradeoff Republicans want represents the middle ground, mainstream position in this debate is absurd on its face: a recent Quinnipiac poll found that only 17 percent of Americans favor cuts to legal immigration, while 81 percent favor legalizing the dreamers."

"If Trump and Republicans are going to stick to this position, Democrats really have no choice but to say no. This way of doing business must be flatly repudiated," he continued. "If Trump and Republicans don’t want to protect the dreamers, then so be it. And by the way, if Dems do walk away, they will have the support of many of the dreamers themselves."

Indeed, it's Trump who has taken the steps to get to where we are at now, with just a couple of weeks to go before the March 5 DACA deadline.

With a bipartisan plan reached in the Senate, it's unlikely that Congress and the White House will end up on the same page. So the ball is now back in Trump's court, and if his threats mean anything, he's likely to veto.

By Charlie May

MORE FROM Charlie May