President Trump wants Congress to improve border security and end chain migration in exchange for protecting an estimated 700,000 so-called Dreamers, who entered the country illegally as children, from deportation.
Trump also made clear that he doesn’t want immigration legislation attached to the year-end spending bill and risk a government shutdown over the immigration status of people who came to the country illegally as children.
Trump laid out his demands on during a meeting with seven Republican senators at the White House on Thursday.
"He wants a solution, he put it back into the Congress’s lap on [the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program] DACA. He gave us until early March and he expects a solution but any solution to DACA’s got to include an ending to chain migration,” Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) told reporters after meeting with the president.
Former President Obama issued an order in 2012 to create the DACA program to protect immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children and have spent years integrating into American culture.
Trump rescinded the program in September but established a six-month phase-in period for Congress to come up with a solution.
Perdue said Trump also wants provisions strengthening border security as part of the package.
“Border security, this is part of that tight package that he really wants,” he said.
Up in the air is whether to also end the diversity visa lottery program, which Sayfullo Saipov, who is accused of killing eight people in a terrorist attack in New York on Tuesday, used to enter the country in 2010.
Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynSenate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products Senators introduce bill aimed at protecting Ukrainian civilians Lawmakers press Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine MORE (Texas), the second-ranking Senate GOP leader, who also attended the meeting with Trump, expressed concern earlier in the week that language ending the diversity visa lottery could weigh down the immigration bill.
Perdue and other GOP senators at the meeting said Trump was “emphatic” about keeping the immigration bill separate from the year-end spending bill.
That raises the possibility that Trump may be willing to postpone the debate over funding a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, something he insisted on as part of a government-funding package earlier this year.
Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonSenate's antitrust bill would raise consumer prices and lower our competitiveness Sinema scuttles hopes for filibuster reform Republicans threaten floor takeover if Democrats weaken filibuster MORE (R-Ark.), who also attended the meeting, said there was “more back-and-forth on what border enforcement would look like” than on how to end chain migration.
Cotton, for one, believes building a 30-foot wall along the border would be effective to stop illegal migration.
“The logical, coherent, tightly-wound package of giving legal status to the DACA recipients is to try to control the two negative side effects to that: chain migration and greater enforcement,” Cotton said.
Lawmakers would end so-called chain migration by restricting green cards to close relatives of legalized residents.
“American citizens, green-card holders of all kinds would no longer be able to get a green card for anyone other than their spouse and their unmarried minor child,” Cotton said of the agreement Trump and GOP senators expressed at Thursday’s meeting.
With Congress focused on tax reform this month and then moving to the spending debate in December, an immigration bill would have to wait until next year.
“We definitely ruled out putting any kind of DACA package on the omnibus bill, end of story,” said Cotton.