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Trump backs wide immigration bill, threatens to veto others

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) speaks with reporters in

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) speaks with reporters in Washington on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018. His new bill would tigthen immigration laws. Credit: AP / J. Scott Applewhite


WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday endorsed Republican legislation that embodies his framework for tightening immigration laws and resolving the status of Dreamers — and threatened to veto other bipartisan and narrower bills.

Trump weighed in as the Senate headed toward votes this week on a measure sponsored by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) that contains Trump’s four principles and two emerging bipartisan bills that focus only on Dreamers who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, and border security.

The three measures and a proposal to strip federal economic development funds from sanctuary cities that don’t fully cooperate with immigration authorities are expected to be among the first bills to be considered on the floor, lawmakers told reporters.

But Trump’s statement could discourage support for those attempts aimed at seeking to find the right balance to attract the necessary 60 votes to pass legislation this week in a chamber with 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats and independents.

The Senate could vote Thursday, or possibly Friday, on Republican and bipartisan proposals to determine if any can pass that 60-vote threshold and be sent to the House, where Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he’ll bring up the House bill that Trump endorsed Wednesday.

Trump also warned he would not sign off on any limited-duration bills to address Dreamers after an Obama-era executive order that protects them from deportation expires.

“I am asking all senators, in both parties, to support the Grassley bill and to oppose any legislation that fails to fulfill these four pillars — that includes opposing any short-term ‘Band-Aid’ approach,” Trump said in a statement.

The Trump framework includes legalization and eventual citizenship for about 1.8 million Dreamers, including 690,000 in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program; construction of a border wall; curbing family reunification migration; and ending the visa lottery.

The compromise agreed to by a bipartisan group led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine.) offers a path to citizenship for Dreamers, but not for their parents. It also would include $25 billion for Trump’s southern border wall but would not limit legal immigration by eliminating the lottery visa.

Asked if Trump’s statement meant he would veto any bills other than those he endorses, a White House official said in a news media call Wednesday morning, “I think he has made very clear these four pillars need to be in the bill that he would sign.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who promised an open and fair debate on the fate of Dreamers, stepped up his support for the Grassley bill.

McConnell indicated it is the only legislation that can get through the Senate and House and win the president’s signature.

“The president has made clear what principles must be addressed if we are going to make a law instead of merely making political points,” McConnell said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the president is trying to force Democrats to support his hard-line approach, which includes shrinking legal immigration, instead of working on a compromise.

“President Trump’s contribution to this debate has been to put forward a proposal that contains a vast curtailment of legal immigration, far outside the scope of DACA for border security, and demanded that Democrats support it,” Schumer said.

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