Friday, President Donald Trump might have given Democrats in Florida and nationwide a big gift before the 2018 midterm elections. At a press gathering on the White House lawn, he delivered a potentially fatal blow to a compromise immigration bill under development in the House.
While his Justice Department is taking children from their families and using the harshest tactics the law allows. It should be noted that President Trump has the power to seek a kinder way to treat those seeking asylum and his blaming the Democrats for his administration’s harsh tactics is false because he can execute the law as he sees fit since he is in charge of the Attorney General’s office.
But in a separate interview, Trump said on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” that he is not planning to sign the negotiated measure.
“I’m looking at both of them. I certainly wouldn’t sign the more moderate one,” Trump said. “I need a bill that gives this country tremendous border security. I have to have that. We have to get rid of catch-and-release.”
“We catch a criminal, a real criminal, a rough, tough, criminal. We take his name and then we release him. And we say please to show up to court in a couple of months. You know what the chances of getting him to court are? Like zero. OK? It’s crazy,” the President said.
That would kill the bill that the Republican Congress was hoping to introduce as soon as Monday. The draft bill released Thursday included Trump’s requested $25 billion for his border wall and required much more detention of undocumented immigrants — addressing what Trump calls “catch and release.”
Vox News reported that the “more moderate” bill was explicitly designed to adhere to the “four pillars” that Trump mandated in January be a part of any immigration deal: money for the “wall” he wants to build on the US-Mexico border; elimination of the diversity visa lottery; curbing family-based immigration (which the Trump administration refers to as “chain migration”); and a way for the immigrants currently facing the loss of their protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to apply for formal legal status in the US.
It also gives the Trump administration what it’s been demanding more recently, as it’s turned its attention to trying to reduce the number of asylum seekers (especially Central Americans, and especially families) coming into the US without papers: It drastically raises the bar for the initial screening that allows someone to stay in the US and pursue an asylum case; it allows the US to turn back any asylum seeker who’s come through Mexico and tell them to seek asylum there instead; and it allows children to be detained indefinitely by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (which the Trump administration claims is the only alternative to separating them from their parents at the border).
It hard to see any harsher bill making it through the House or the Senate so for the time being things are likely to stay the same. Republican moderates and conservatives will now go back to the drawing board in hopes of finding something that can get the presidential signature.