U.S. President Donald Trump criticized Democrat lawmakers Tuesday, saying their demands to include protections for young undocumented immigrants in a bill that would prevent a government shut-down this week would cost the military.
“The Democrats want to shut down the Government over Amnesty for all and Border Security.The biggest loser will be our rapidly rebuilding Military, at a time we need it more than ever.We need a merit based system of immigration, and we need it now!No more dangerous Lottery,” Trump posted on Twitter.
The White House-congressional talks about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, are linked to urgent meetings this week about funding to keep the government operating beyond Friday midnight, when current spending authorization expires.
Democratic leaders have said they most likely oppose a measure that does not protect the young immigrants, known as “Dreamers,” including the nearly 800,000 who have entered the United States under the DACA program.This has raised the ire of Trump, who again insisted on Twitter the spending bill must satisfy his demands for tighter border security.
“We must have Security at our VERY DANGEROUS SOUTHERN BORDER, and we must have a great WALL to help protect us, and to help stop the massive inflow of drugs pouring into our country!”
Even if legislators do not approve a program to protect the immigrants, deporting them will not be a top federal government priority, according to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Neilsen.
“It’s not going to be a priority of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” Nielsen told CBS News Tuesday. “If you are a DACA that’s compliant with your registration, meaning you haven’t committed a crime and you in fact are registered, you are not a priority of enforcement for ICE should the program end.”
Despite Nielsen’s remarks, Trump has greatly expanded the categories of people who can be prioritized for deportation, a move immigration advocates say puts DACA recipients who lose their status at risk.
Nielsen’s comments were made as the battle over an immigration agreement has been complicated by Trump’s controversial remarks at White House meeting last Thursday.
Race issue raised
During the meeting, Trump was reported to have referred to immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and Africa as coming from “s—hole countries,” as he asked why the United States is letting in immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and Africa and said he wanted more from countries such as Norway.
During testimony under oath Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Secretary Nielsen was asked if she heard the vulgarity used.
Nielsen responded that she “did not hear”’ Trump use a certain vulgarity to describe African countries, but added she doesn’t “dispute the president was using tough language.”
At one point after news surfaced about his remark, Trump tweeted, “Never said anything derogatory about Haiti.Made up by Dems.I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians.Probably should record future meetings – unfortunately no trust.”
Trump’s reported remarks has fueled Democrat charges he is a racist.On Sunday, Trump denied he is a racist, telling reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort in the state of Florida, “I am the least racist person you will ever interview.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders continued the narrative Tuesday, saying claims Trump is racist are “outrageous.”
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday on CBS’s Late Show that Trump could demonstrate he is not a racist by signing an immigration bill that would protect young undocumented immigrants from deportation.
Trump is tying an extension of DACA, a temporary program championed by his predecessor Barack Obama, to funding for a wall he wants built along the U.S.-Mexican border.
Building a wall to stop further illegal immigration was a campaign promise Trump made during his successful 2016 run to the White House.
Many Democrats want extending DACA to be a separate issue from building a wall – something they oppose.Trump last September signed an executive order ending DACA, but gave Congress until March 5 to weigh in on the issue.