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Donald Trump's working style puts a cloud over US immigration deal

The unravelling of the potential compromise further stokes concerns about Trump's unpredictability as a negotiator and his impulse to rapidly reverse course

Toluse Olorunnipa & Steven T Dennis | Bloomberg 

Trump
US President Donald Trump stands between US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson (left) and Issac Newton Farris before signing a proclamation to honour Martin Luther King Jr day on Friday. Photo: Reuters

appeared ready to consider an with and moderate Republicans this week — until a hard-right flank led by senior adviser and Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton pulled him back. Miller is widely viewed in the as an obstacle to a deal who has supplied the with an unrealistic expectation of what would accept, according to three people familiar with the talks. The unravelling of the potential compromise further stokes concerns about Trump’s unpredictability as a negotiator and his impulse to rapidly reverse course. House Republicans backed Trump on an Obamacare repeal last year only to see him turn around and denigrate the bill as “mean.” He abandoned Republican leaders in the middle of an Oval Office meeting in September to strike a budget deal with their Democratic counterparts. Only this time the ensuing blow-up is raising the risk of a government shutdown that could come as soon as the end of next week. Miller is providing Trump advice that is tone-deaf on how emotionally invested are on immigration, said a person familiar with the talks. That is feeding a misunderstanding that concessions on spending will buy a better deal on immigration, the person added. officials defend the Trump aide’s role. Miller is simply reflecting the administration’s views, not undercutting Chief of Staff or other Trump negotiators, two administration officials said. Trump, who vacillated between more moderate proposals on Tuesday and a hard-line stance by Thursday, further derailed the negotiations with a vulgar insult to immigrants from certain countries. Trump’s comments — describing places such as Haiti and African nations as “shithole” countries — consumed the news cycle Friday and sparked bipartisan condemnation, all but killing any sense of optimism that a deal could be struck soon to avoid a shutdown of the “My thought that we might get a bipartisan agreement approved by the died yesterday,” Illinois Senator told reporters Friday.

Durbin added that Trump used “hate-filled, vile and racist” language during the Thursday meeting at the to discuss a potential deal. Taking to Twitter on Friday, Trump disparaged the bipartisan proposal backed by three Republican senators and three Democratic senators as a “big setback” to a potential and issued a vague denial of the vulgar comments. Trump’s mercurial approach has flummoxed lawmakers and advocates on both sides of the immigration debate, leaving stakeholders unsure about where he stands. “If the were consistent in his positioning in this, it would give the Republicans cover” on a deal, said Theresa Brown, director of immigration policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington. “But he has not so far on many issues demonstrated the kind of consistency of viewpoint that would actually provide that cover.” Durbin sat next to Trump on Tuesday, at a bipartisan meeting of lawmakers seeking to reach an agreement to provide some protections for participants in the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme shielding some young undocumented immigrants from deportation. During the televised meeting, Trump spoke of wanting a “bill of love” and appeared to endorse a “clean DACA” legislation sought by He said he would favour “doing first” before moving to “comprehensive immigration reform,” and touted the virtue of a “path” to citizenship for undocumented workers. Trump said he would accept any deal that the bipartisan group came up with and would not reject it due to reservations about certain provisions. After the meeting, the said Trump wanted a deal to include funding for border security, limitations on family-based immigration and an end to the diversity visa lottery programme. Taking those cues, a bipartisan group of six lawmakers hashed out a deal that addressed those issues and provided legal protections for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U. S. as children without proper authorisation. Durbin and Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, each spoke to Trump during phone calls Thursday morning to outline the contours of the deal, according to a Democratic congressional aide who requested anonymity to discuss the internal deliberations. On the phone call, Trump was receptive toward the deal and Durbin and Graham headed to the to further brief the president, the aide said. When they arrived, they were surprised to see several Republican lawmakers, including immigration hardliners like Cotton and Representative Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, the chairman of the House Cotton, Goodlatte and the said the deal was a non-starter in part because it did not eliminate family-based migration for extended family members. The proposal Graham and Durbin brought included restrictions on what conservatives call chain migration but only for relatives of recipients. “We want changes to chain migration and not to a very small percentage of the population and how it affects chain migration,” Marc Short, legislative affairs director, told reporters Thursday. “We want chain migration fixed for the immigration system.”


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First Published: Sun, January 14 2018. 00:06 IST
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