President Donald Trump has made it clear that he will not accept a bipartisan agreement on immigration reform unless it includes his own hard-line right-wing policy proposals — leaving the Senate without enough votes to pass any of its assorted immigration proposals.
The president torpedoed one proposal with support from a group of eight senators from both parties when he blasted it as “a total catastrophe” and his Department of Homeland Security lambasted it as the “end of immigration enforcement in America” on Thursday.
"The Schumer-Rounds-Collins proposal destroys the ability of the men and women from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to remove millions of illegal aliens," Trump's Department of Homeland Security explained on its website Thursday. "It would be the end of immigration enforcement in America and only serve to draw millions more illegal aliens with no way to remove them. By halting immigration enforcement for all aliens who arrived before June 2018, it ignores the lessons of 9/11 and significantly increases the risk of crime and terrorism."
The statement went on to say that any immigration reform bill needed to follow the "four compromise pillars" that Trump has established as a sine qua non on this issue. Those pillars include making it more difficult for immigrants to come to the United States legally, a core principle for many of the president's far-right supporters.
Trump's intransigent stance on immigration reform couldn't come at a more inopportune moment. Because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell imposed an end of the week deadline for passing immigration reform legislation, his party could suffer a major PR embarrassment if they are unable to get anything done on this high profile issue. According to Politico:
The White House has been telling Republican senators that it expects the Supreme Court to overturn the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling extending protections for undocumented immigrants under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The implication is that what is now an indefinite grace period would quickly disappear — and that Democrats would be without leverage and forced to accept more Republican demands in order to codify DACA.
The bipartisan bill with the most support would have provided a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers (undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children) and spend $25 billion on border security, according to Bloomberg. While a Republican-supported bill sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa also included those measures, it would add limits to family-based migration and eliminate the diversity visa lottery. It was also voted down by the Senate on Thursday.
The bipartisan bill was written by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and its main sponsor Mike Rounds, R-S.D.