While a bipartisan senate group had reportedly reached an “agreement in principle” on DACA, as well as packaging immigration reform in order to avoid a government shutdown next Friday, things took another turn for the bizarre, when the WaPo reported that Trump “grew frustrated with lawmakers Thursday in the Oval Office when they floated restoring protections for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries” as part of the proposed deal.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump burst out, referring to African countries and Haiti. Instead, he suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries like Norway.
The comments left lawmakers “taken aback.”
Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) proposed cutting the visa lottery program by 50 percent and prioritizing countries already in the system, a White House official said.
As reported earlier, the administration announced this week that it was removing the protection for over 200,000 citizens from El Salvador; meanwhile, as part of a potential bipartisan deal, lawmakers discussed restoring protections for countries that have been removed from the temporary protected status program while adding $1.5 billion for a border wall and making changes to the visa lottery system.
And, as so often happens, what was until noon a tentative deal, exploded in the afternoon when Trump changed his mind:
Trump had seemed amenable to a deal earlier in the day during phone calls, aides said, but shifted his position in the meeting and did not seem interested.
As a result, what was until just hours ago a done deal, is now in tatters.
Graham and Durbin thought they would be meeting with Trump alone and were surprised to find immigration hard-liners such as Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) at the meeting. The meeting was impromptu and came after phone calls Thursday morning, Capitol Hill aides said.
After the meeting, Marc Short, Trump’s legislative aide, said the White House was nowhere near a bipartisan deal on immigration.
“We still think we can get there,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at the daily White House news briefing.
Or maybe not, in which case a government shutdown may be inevitable.
Oh, and as for the White House, it refused to deny that Trump said it.