Trump calls for border legislation using 'nuclear option’
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump demanded Monday that Congress pass new border legislation using the “Nuclear Option if necessary” to muscle it through the Senate — a drastic change in rules the Republican leader has previously dismissed.
Trump tweeted that the U.S. must build a border wall, but argued that “Democrats want No Borders, hence drugs and crime!” He also said that a deal to help “Dreamer” immigrants is “dead because the Democrats didn’t care or act.”
Trump has previously called for the “nuclear option” — changing Senate rules to end the filibuster. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has dismissed that option in the past, saying Republicans will welcome the filibuster if they return to being the Senate minority.
The White House did not immediately answer questions about Trump’s tweets. The $1.3 trillion funding package Congress passed last month included $1.6 billion in border wall spending. But much of that money can only be used to repair existing segments, not build new sections. Congress also put restrictions on the types of barriers that can be built.
Trump began tweeting over the weekend on immigration from Florida, threatening to pull out of a free trade agreement with Mexico unless it does more to stop people from crossing into the U.S. He claimed they’re coming to take advantage of protections granted certain immigrants.
He said Mexico must “stop the big drug and people flows, or I will stop their cash cow, NAFTA. NEED WALL!” The U.S., Canada and Mexico are participating in tense negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement at Trump’s insistence. Trump says NAFTA is bad for the U.S.
“Mexico has got to help us at the border,” Trump, holding his wife’s hand, told reporters before the couple attended Easter services at an Episcopal church near his Palm Beach, Florida home.
Former President Barack Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to provide temporary protection and work permits to hundreds of thousands of immigrants who are living in the U.S. illegally after being brought here as children. Trump ended the program last year, but gave Congress six months to pass legislation enshrining it. A deal has so far proved elusive and Trump has blamed Democrats.
It was not immediately clear what Trump was referring to when he said people are coming to take advantage of the program. The Department of Homeland Security is not issuing new permits, though existing ones can be renewed. The Obama administration allowed signups during a set period of time, and the program is closed to new entrants.
Proposed DACA deals crafted by lawmakers and rejected by Trump also were not open to new participants.
Trump did not explain what he meant when questioned by reporters as he entered the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea with the first lady and his daughter Tiffany. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for clarification.