President Donald Trump on Friday morning delivered a potentially fatal blow to a compromise immigration bill under development in the House.
Trump said on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” that he is not planning to sign the negotiated measure.
“I’m looking at both of them. I certainly wouldn’t sign the more moderate one,” Trump said. “I need a bill that gives this country tremendous border security. I have to have that. We have to get rid of catch-and-release.”
“We catch a criminal, a real criminal, a rough, tough, criminal. We take his name and then we release him. And we say please to show up to court in a couple of months. You know what the chances of getting him to court are? Like zero. OK? It’s crazy,” the President said.
The rejection of the compromise contradicts messaging from the White House in recent days.
Earlier this week, top White House adviser Stephen Miller, a known hardliner on immigration, was on the Hill telling key conservatives the White House was supportive of the negotiations on the bill, and House Speaker Paul Ryan told his GOP members behind closed doors that he had been in touch with Trump who was “excited” about the process.
The draft bill released Thursday included Trump’s requested $25 billion for his border wall and required much more detention of undocumented immigrants — addressing what Trump calls “catch and release.”
Without Trump’s support, and with a pledge to veto the legislation, it would be almost impossible to pass the legislation in the House, as members across the ideological spectrum are already hesitant to back the legislation on the political third rail issue and many lawmakers have said they are only interested in a bill that can become law.
The draft bill is the product of weeks of negotiations behind closed doors between Republican moderates and conservatives, convened by leadership after dueling rebellions by both flanks.
Though the parties reached a compromise to move forward, they have never promised the bill will have enough votes to pass, and both conservative and moderate members who helped craft the bill said Thursday they were already seeking changes to it before they could pledge support.