WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump warned Tuesday that it’s now or never when it comes to extending protections for young immigrants who have stayed in the country illegally.
Trump, in an early-morning tweet, said Congress must act now to provide legal protections to young “Dreamer” immigrants even as legislation faces an uncertain prospect in Congress.
“Wouldn’t it be great if we could finally, after so many years, solve the DACA puzzle,” he wrote, adding: “This will be our last chance, there will never be another opportunity! March 5th.”
Trump was referring to a deadline he announced last year to end a program protecting young immigrants from deportation. But a recent court ruling has rendered that deadline all but meaningless.
The comments came the day after the Senate voted 97-1 — Ted Cruz, R-Texas, provided the sole “no” vote — to plunge into an open-ended immigration debate that’s been promised by McConnell. Both parties’ leaders hope debate can be concluded this week, but it’s unclear if that will happen or what the product, if any, will be.
“This is going to be done or not done this week,” No. 2 Senate GOP leader John Cornyn of Texas told reporters.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., threw his weight behind a wide-ranging bill that mirrors Trump’s approach. It would pave a path to citizenship for up to 1.8 million young “Dreamer” immigrants in the U.S. illegally, a lure for Democrats that many Republicans oppose. Trump also wants $25 billion for Trump’s border wall with Mexico and other security measures, as well as curbs on legal immigration — a must for many Republicans.
“This proposal has my support, and during this week of fair debate, I believe it deserves the support of every senator who’s ready to move beyond making points and actually making a law,” McConnell said in beginning Senate debate Tuesday.
McConnell and other GOP supporters describe the measure as the Senate’s best shot of passing a bill that the president will sign. McConnell’s endorsement is key for generating Republican support, but many Democrats consider some of the proposals, including limiting the relatives that legal immigrants can bring to the U.S., to be non-starters.
Leading up to the debate, the Senate’s two top leaders put on a show of comradery, but also laid down markers underscoring how hard it will be to reach a deal that can move through Congress.
“We really do get along, despite what you read in the press,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Monday at a previously scheduled appearance alongside McConnell at the University of Louisville.