Donald Trump’s immigration wall has not been built, but it’s already Cracking.
Facing mounting protests and legal hurdles, President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he is open to a compromise immigration reform bill to allow a path to legalization for illegal immigrants with no serious crimes.
Trump discussed the willingness to move ahead on immigration reform during a lunch with television anchors on Tuesday ahead of his address to a joint session of Congress, CNN reported Wednesday afternoon.
“The time is right for an immigration bill as long as there is compromise on both sides,” Trump said, during a lunch with television anchors on Tuesday ahead of his address to a joint session of Congress.
Trump’s remarks set Capitol Hill abuzz, sparking immediate skepticism from Democrats, some openness from pro-reform Republicans and consternation from conservatives who have adamantly opposed overhaul efforts in the past.
The administration did not offer details, but CNN reported that while Trump would oppose a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million in the country illegally, they could obtain some sort of legal status that would allow them to stay.
Trump’s executive orders have significantly broadened the population of immigrants who should for targeted for deportation purposes. In recent weeks, Democrats and immigration advocates have highlighted stories of people — including a young immigrant protected from deportation under an Obama-era directive — getting swept up by immigration enforcement agents under Trump.
Trump has “got a lot to undo,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. “The immigrant community is rightfully scared.”
To date, Trump has continued to press for a sweeping crackdown on immigration, promising to move forward with the construction of a border wall, empowering deportation officials, and attempting to temporarily ban immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Still, this isn’t the first time Trump has shown an openness to restarting dormant immigration reform efforts in Congress. At a meeting with a bipartisan group of senators earlier this month, Trump said he would “be glad to look at” a new legislative proposal that overhauls immigration laws when the lawmakers raised the topic.
During an immigration-centric speech in Phoenix during the campaign, Trump also said those currently here illegally will have “one route and one route only” to legal status: return to their home country and apply through legal channels. It’s unclear whether Trump still would support that kind of provision.
Republicans, however, are opposed to any compromise on immigration.
Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), one of Trump’s closest allies on Capitol Hill, didn’t appear to embrace Trump’s willingness to entertain immigration reform that addressed the millions here illegally.
“I don’t think we can have this conversation yet until our borders are secure, because anytime you start talking about pathway to citizenship or legal status it encourages more people to come,” Barletta argued in an interview. “So I’m not supportive of discussing what I would do until our borders are secure including our airports or any ports of entry.”