Trump’s crackdown on immigrants may have poisoned the well for a comprehensive deal.
President Donald Trump says he’s open to a large-scale immigration reform bill if Republicans and Democrats can reach a compromise. But he forgot the biggest obstacle to a deal: his own policies and the revulsion they’ve already fueled among Democrats.
Trump stormed into the White House with a vow to crack down on undocumented immigrants, and promptly followed through — alienating advocates of a more generous immigration policy. Not only will Trump struggle to persuade Democrats to come to the table, it’s not even clear they’re in the same room.
“If he’s serious, he should give us evidence and say, ‘I’m going to stop the deportations,’” said Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, a key player in past immigration reform efforts. The Illinois Democrat said Trump needs to stand up to his hard line immigration brain trust — Attorney General Jeff Sessions, chief strategist Steve Bannon and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — whom Gutierrez called the “three principal heads of xenophobia.”
Even Trump’s critics were caught off guard by how quickly he moved to implement sweeping campaign promises, including the executive orders to build a wall on the southern border; to greatly broaden the pool of people likely to be deported; temporarily restrict citizens of several majority-Muslim nations from entering the U.S.; and suspend the refugee resettlement program.
Hints of a policy shift emerged on Tuesday afternoon, when the president told television news anchors in a closed-door luncheon that “the time is right” for an immigration reform bill and expressed openness to legal status for undocumented immigrants. He even suggested he would back giving a pathway to citizenship to so-called Dreamers, who came to the U.S. as children.