WASHINGTON, D.C. – White House officials said Monday that the Trump administration is pursuing another legislative push on immigration, but when pressed said the effort would largely be the same as it has been trying unsuccessfully since last fall.
The comments came in a call on Monday with reporters organized to back up a string of tweets from President Donald Trump over the weekend and into Monday pushing a hard line on immigration, sounding off on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, illegal immigration and Mexico.
The call, held on the condition the speakers not be quoted by name, largely re-hashed the administration’s talking points on immigration, calling provisions of US and international immigration law “loopholes” that human smugglers misconstrue to encourage would-be migrants to make the journey to the US.
A senior White House official said that Trump and allies will continue to push for a laundry list of aggressive policies the administration has been asking Congress for since releasing its priorities list in October.
“DHS is working on another legislative package, obviously we’ve been talking about this for many months now, including when we sent the immigration priorities over to Congress back in October that would basically close these loopholes so we can have a lawful immigration system and save a lot of lives on both sides of the border,” the official said.
The administration proposed a somewhat scaled-down version of its wish list in a framework for a deal to preserve DACA, a program that protects young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children, which Trump is trying to end.
The proposal from the White House failed to get even 40 votes in the 100-member Senate.
The official claimed any politician who opposes the changes the White House seeks is supporting illegal immigration.
“If you oppose those fixes, as Democrats do, you’re basically saying you want endless numbers of new waves of illegal immigrants,” the official said.
Democrats, moderates and civil rights groups say the White House-backed measures run counter to human and constitutional rights in some cases, and in others are much more complicated than portrayed by the administration. They also argue that attaching the provisions to a narrow DACA deal would be harshly punitive against immigrants without offering many protections in return to those who have been living peacefully, if illegally, in the US for years.
Trump spent the weekend fuming over immigration as he heard from his right-wing base, including mingling with immigration hardliners like Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro.
The official on the call declined to explain what the President meant when he tweeted “NO MORE DACA DEAL,” saying the administration wants to prevent any future flows of undocumented immigrants.
“I think the point was is that the legislation that we put forward (earlier this year) was designed to have as part of it an extremely strong deterrence and prevention component,” the official said. “The whole point was that we don’t want to create a humanitarian crisis and create endless waves of illegal immigration.”