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 TrumpSchiff: Nunes gave Trump ‘secretly altered’ version of memo Davis: ‘Deep state’ existed in ’16 – but it elected Trump Former Trump legal spokesman to testify to Mueller about undisclosed call: report MORE.

The bill from Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainWhat Trump didn’t say in his State of the Union address Trump signs order to keep Gitmo open Trump’s pick for NY prosecutor scrutinized MORE (R-Ariz.) and Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsHatch bill would dramatically increase H-1B visas Live coverage: Shutdown begins A Department of Energy foundation: An idea whose time has come 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.

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.

Raj Shah, a spokesman for the White House, said Monday that the “next step” is for Democrats to pitch a “credible” counterproposal.

“The president has laid out pretty clear plans. We have yet to see, you know, a Democratic plan that, frankly, is credible or passes muster,” he said.

The McCain–Coons bill mirrors a House bill introduced by Reps. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdCrowded primaries loom in Texas House races Dem whip pushes back on ‘four pillars’ approach to Dreamers Texas Democrat slams border wall, links GOP opponent to Trump in new ad MORE (R-Texas) and Rep. Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarDem whip pushes back on ‘four pillars’ approach to Dreamers Bipartisan group to introduce DACA bill in House Don’t bother with GOP DACA bill – Trump already has a winning plan 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 GoodlatteSeveral lawmakers have seen intelligence behind Nunes memo Key senator floats new compromise for immigration talks Dem whip pushes back on ‘four pillars’ approach to Dreamers MORE (R-Va.) that includes additional border security measures

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 RubioOvernight Finance: Trump touts trade agenda in State of the Union address | Consumer Bureau ruled constitutional | Fed leaves rates unchanged Trump sounded downright Keynesian in SOTU speech Rubio: ‘We have to do more’ to help Puerto Rico 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 McConnellThe Hill’s 12:30 Report Disciplined, SOTU Trump can disappear with the speed of a tweet Republicans head to West Virginia to plot 2018 agenda 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 hasn’t said what proposal he will bring up, but that the process would be “fair” to both sides.

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