McCain, Coons immigration bill sparks Trump backlash

A bill aimed at resetting immigration negotiations in the Senate is running into early backlash from President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser MORE.

The bill from Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump hits McCain on ObamaCare vote GOP, White House start playing midterm blame game Arizona race becomes Senate GOP’s ‘firewall’ MORE (R-Ariz.) and Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsJudiciary Democrat calls for additional witnesses to testify on Kavanaugh Kavanaugh allegations could be monster storm brewing for midterm elections      Sunday shows preview: White House officials on offensive in wake of anonymous NY Times op-ed MORE (D-Del.), introduced on Monday, pairs a path to citizenship for “dreamers” with border security measures — but does not include funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

The two senators believe their bill could be a base for negotiators among a wider group of senators, but Trump took a shot at the measure before it was even formally introduced.

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The president said it was a non-starter to offer a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects many immigrants who entered the United States illegally as children, without funding for the wall.

“Any deal on DACA that does not include STRONG border security and the desperately needed WALL is a total waste of time,” he wrote in a tweet. “March 5th is rapidly approaching and the Dems seem not to care about DACA. Make a deal!”

The Trump administration announced last year that it was ending DACA, which allows immigrants brought into the country illegally as children to work and go to school if they meet certain requirements. On March 5, roughly 700,000 DACA recipients will begin to face deportation without action by Congress.

Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs, said on Monday that the Coons-McCain proposal fell short. Asked if it should be the base for the Senate's legislation, he shook his head no saying "a lot" needed to be added to it. 

“Look at our framework,” he told reporters. “I think we’d advocate our framework to be the base bill.”

The McCain–Coons bill mirrors a House bill introduced by Reps. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdDem introduces bill to create federal cybersecurity apprenticeship program Koch group launches digital ads in tight Texas House race Gingrich: Bushes view themselves as closer to Obamas, Clintons than to Trump MORE (R-Texas) and Rep. Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarKoch group launches digital ads in tight Texas House race House panel moves to bar deportation of military 'Dreamers' Immigration compromise underlines right’s clout MORE (D-Calif.) that has more than 50 co-sponsors, including 27 Republicans. It would provide legal status and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought into the country as minors before the end of 2013.

It would also require a strategy for the Department of Homeland Security for operational control and situational awareness of the border.

Coons said he is open to strengthening border security provisions in the legislation in order to win over more Republicans. McCain, who has been diagnosed with brain cancer, wasn’t on Monday’s conference call.

Trump has set up a four-part plan includes DACA, border security and changes to two legal immigration programs — reforms to family-based immigration, which conservatives call “chain migration," and the nixing of the State Department’s diversity visa lottery.

The McCain–Coons bill would appear to be a long-shot with House Republicans, many of whom have rallied around legislation sponsored by Rep. Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteHouse Judiciary chair threatens subpoena if DOJ doesn’t supply McCabe memos by Tuesday Rosenstein report gives GOP new ammo against DOJ House Judiciary chair: Nellie Ohr is cooperating, will testify MORE (R-Va.) that includes additional border security measures

Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulHillicon Valley: Manafort to cooperate with Mueller probe | North Korea blasts US over cyber complaint | Lawmakers grill Google over China censorship | Bezos to reveal HQ2 location by year's end Overnight Defense: Details on defense spending bill | NATO chief dismisses talk of renaming HQ for McCain | North Korea warns US over cyber allegations Bipartisan House group presses Google over China censorship MORE (R-Texas) touted Goodlatte’s bill and the “four pillars” during an event at George Washington University on Monday.

“I would argue, though, our nation's security has been weakened by chain migration and the visa lottery program, which is random,” he said. “These two programs risk exploitation from those who do not share our values and actively work to undermine them.”

But Democrats in the Senate and House are unlikely to go along with changes to the two legal immigration programs, especially after Trump’s controversial remarks in a private meeting with lawmakers that the United States should not take more immigrants from “shithole countries."

“I think the president’s proposal around family migration is the most divisive and difficult of his proposals,” Coons said. “It would literally be the biggest immigration policy change since the 1920s. ... I don’t think we’re going to get done in the next three days.”

The inability to lock down a deal has sparked speculation that Congress could be forced to pass a one-year extension of DACA paired with one year of border security funding, though senators publicly downplay the option.

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioNikki Haley: New York Times ‘knew the facts’ about curtains and still released story March For Our Lives founder leaves group, says he regrets trying to 'embarrass' Rubio Rubio unloads on Turkish chef for 'feasting' Venezuela's Maduro: 'I got pissed' MORE (R-Fla.) recently quipped that if a narrow DACA-border security deal is “Plan B,” then a temporary one-year stopgap is “Plan Z.” Coons added on Monday that an extension was a “terrible” idea.

Absent a larger agreement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Kavanaugh accuser set to testify Thursday McConnell told Trump criticism of Kavanaugh accuser isn't helpful: report MORE (R-Ky.) has said he will turn to an immigration debate if the government remains open past Feb. 8 — the current deadline to pass a funding bill and avoid a second shutdown.

McConnell has been tightlipped about legislation he would bring to the floor, only saying the process will be “fair” to both sides. Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynKey GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand Trump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle GOP mulls having outside counsel question Kavanaugh, Ford MORE (R-Texas) said that after the Feb. 8 deadline the Senate will turn to a “free-wheeling debate and amendment process.”

The president’s framework proposed giving roughly 1.8 million immigrants a path to citizenship in exchange for tens of billions in funding for the border wall and other changes to legal immigration.