Cornyn Says Democrats Hold Spending Bill Hostage on Immigration

A section of the U.S-Mexico border fence separating Nogales Arizona and Santa Cruz Mexico.                       CNN

Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas on Tuesday sparred with President Donald Trump over his proposed wall along the U.S. -Mexico border. NumbersUSA, a top immigration control group, said that Trump's focus on border security and giving a lower priority to changes to immigration law was glossing over a top issue to his supporters.

Speaking to reporters a day before a White House meeting on immigration, Cornyn said Democrats won't agree to new spending caps for domestic and defense programs that are key to writing a broad spending bill for this fiscal year.

Dick Durbin of IL, the No.2 Democrat in the Senate, has criticized the request made by the administration for wall and border security spending. DACA has become a bargaining chip as Congress moves closer to having to pass a spending bill or shut down the government. A Republican source in the room told CNN that lawmakers didn't know the press would be in the White House meeting for so long.

Congressional leaders met with Trump at the White House last Thursday, but Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the president's call for a wall to be part of the deal may have poisoned the well. "Because I respect them", he said.

"I think my positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with", Trump said during a Cabinet Room meeting with a bipartisan group of 20 lawmakers, adding, "I am very much reliant upon the people in this room".

While the government-contracted wall prototypes have risen near the border in San Diego, the Trump administration has so far not made significant progress on the much larger - and costlier - undertaking of funding and constructing a border wall. During the closed-door portion of the meeting, they reached an agreement to negotiate legislation that accomplishes critically needed reforms in four high-priority areas: border security, chain migration, the visa lottery, and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. And those people who don't want to vote to legalize DACA kids are going to have to explain why that they haven't wanted to protect the vulnerable people that we're all here talking about. "In order to secure it, we need a wall".

The administration also wants enhanced enforcement measures, including a boost in the number of border agents and an end to family-based or "chain" migration and the diversity visa lottery system.

But then a few minutes later, Trump said DACA could come first and reform could come down the road, or immediately after. He said Democrats support border security "which means many things to many people and maybe different things to different people". "I don't think it's going to be that complicated". Congressional aides reported that party leaders are informed of their proposal to let certain Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, which ended in September 2017, ultimately get permanent or conditional residence and potentially qualify for USA citizenship.

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