President Trump said Friday that he would oppose a compromise immigration bill cobbled together by House Republicans — dealing a significant blow to GOP leaders who have scrambled to rally support for the bill.
House Republican leaders have teed up votes next week on two immigration measures: a hard-line draft written by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), and legislation billed as a compromise between the moderate and conservative factions of the GOP conference.
“I’m looking at both of them,” Trump said during a wide-ranging interview Friday morning on “Fox and Friends.” “I certainly wouldn’t sign the more moderate one.”
Trump’s opposition is significant particularly since House Republican leaders said they had been working closely with administration officials on the compromise to ensure it was something the president would sign. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) told his members earlier this week that he had briefed Trump on the legislative strategy, and that the president was on board.
“They like what’s in the bill,” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said Thursday. “The president really likes the fact that it fully funds the wall. He hasn’t seen all the details yet, but we stayed very close to the four pillars the president initially laid out and worked closely with the administration in putting this agreement together.”
House Republican leaders plan to whip support for the compromise measure later Friday. A draft of the bill circulated Thursday would provide $25 billion for a border wall paired with a new visa that would give young undocumented immigrants a path to permanent residency and eventual citizenship.
“If this is not the option, then there’s nothing else,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), who helped negotiate the compromise bill, said Thursday. “This is it.”
The measure would also end the Trump administration’s practice of separating immigrant children from their families when they are apprehended at the border by effectively allowing children to be detained with their parents.
A new Trump administration policy that refers everyone who has crossed the border illegally for prosecution has forced the separation of many migrant families, since children can’t be detained in criminal jails alongside their parents.
The proposed changes in the House GOP bill would override a 1997 settlement — which calls on migrant children to be held in the least restrictive setting possible — and related litigation to make clear there is “no presumption that an alien child should not be detained” and that those children must not “be released by the secretary of Homeland Security other than to a parent or legal guardian.”
Trump continued to falsely assert Friday that separating migrant families was a law spearheaded by Democrats. A 2008 anti-trafficking law which requires unaccompanied migrant children to be sent into the care of Health and Human Services — another statute blamed by the administration for the family separation — was passed unanimously by Congress and signed into law by Republican President George W. Bush.
“I hate the children being taken away,” Trump said Friday morning.
Kim and DeBonis write for the Washington Post.