Trump urges compromise as Republicans wrestle with immigration
US President Donald Trump urged his fellow Republicans on Thursday to put aside misgivings over letting young “Dreamer” immigrants stay in the United States and pass a bill that includes that measure but also imposes tough new immigration curbs, Reuters reported.
The debate over immigration policy has become closely enmeshed with looming deadlines over government spending. Congress needs to agree by Feb. 8 on another temporary spending bill to keep the government running, and also needs to lift the ceiling on federal debt this month to avoid a government default.
A fight over funding last month led to a three-day government shutdown, resolved in part by a promise by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to hold a vote on a plan to extend protections for Dreamers - young immigrants brought to the country illegally when they were children.
“To get it done, we’ll all have to make some compromises along the way, to get it done this way,” Trump told lawmakers from his party at a countryside retreat. Republicans control both chambers of Congress, but need support from some Democrats to pass major bills in the Senate.
“We have to be willing to give a little in order for our country to gain a whole lot,” Trump said.
Trump, whose election success hinged partly on his tough line on immigration, has said he is open to letting 1.8 million Dreamers stay in the country and eventually become citizens.
But he made that offer contingent on new curbs for other types of legal immigrants, and on a $25 billion fund to pay for his long-promised wall along the border with Mexico.
Trump was clear on Thursday that his framework was all or nothing, urging the Senate to include all his terms in their bill. But while some of his terms are unpalatable to Democrats, his proposal is also too liberal for some Republicans.
“He’s dropped away a lot of issues and taken heat from a lot of conservatives,” said Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma.
The right wing of the party is uneasy about extending what they call “amnesty” to anyone living in the United States without authorization.
But some hardline members of the Senate and House of Representatives have said they would go along with this if it is linked to the other measures proposed by Trump, particularly an end to the visa lottery system for certain countries, and new limits on the type of family members immigrants can sponsor to move to the United States.
Many Senate Republicans who have been in talks with Democrats on the issue believe that the focus should be a narrower bill: one that addresses the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and Trump’s border wall.
“I think that if we can solve DACA and border security that may be the best I can hope for,” Senator John Thune, a member of the Republican leadership, told reporters.