WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump suggested Sunday he was ruling out a deal with Democrats to legalize hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, calling on GOP lawmakers to instead toughen “our dumb immigration laws.”
In a series of morning tweets, Mr. Trump said “NO MORE DACA DEAL,” a reference to the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which the Trump administration announced last fall would end on March 5.
Mr. Trump has often expressed frustration with lawmakers across the board for not making an immigration deal, although top White House officials most frequently blame Democrats, saying they are holding up a solution for potential political gain. Some GOP and Democratic lawmakers counter that Mr. Trump hadn’t sought to lead the negotiations and has rejected bipartisan compromises.
In the lead-up to the March 5 deadline, Congress and the administration were unable to agree to a deal to resolve the fate of the roughly 690,000 immigrants protected from deportation under the program. Meanwhile, two federal judges issued injunctions blocking plans to end it for now and ordered administration officials to continue to process renewals. As a result, Congress doesn’t face an imminent deadline to act, and lawmakers appear to have given up trying for now.
Mr. Trump had sought a congressional deal that would give people eligible for DACA a path to citizenship in exchange for a set of conservative changes to immigration policies. He rejected a deal that would give him $25 billion for a border wall and other security measures as well as the DACA legalization because it didn’t also restrict family-based immigration and an end to the diversity visa lottery, which gives people from underrepresented countries a chance to come to the U.S.
While Congress has yet to agree to any legislation affecting DACA, a spending bill passed by Congress included $1.57 billion for construction of physical border barriers and other security measures. The measure paid for 33 miles of new miles of fencing, about half of what the president had requested for the year.
Last month, Mr. Trump had expressed disappointment that the funding deal didn’t include a deal on DACA, but Democrats said it was his fault for being unwilling to compromise. Mr. Trump at one point said he was unwilling to sign the spending bill because it didn’t include a DACA deal, then signed it.
In his tweets Sunday, the president rebuked Mexican authorities for “doing very little, if not NOTHING” to stop immigrants “flowing into Mexico through their Southern Border, and then into the U.S.” He threatened to “stop their cash cow, Nafta [the North American Free Trade Agreement],” unless Mexico stops “the big drug and people flows.”
Mr. Trump, vacationing in Palm Beach, Fla., also told reporters before entering an Easter Sunday church service that “Mexico has got to help us at the border.”
“A lot of people are coming in because they want to take advantage of DACA,” he said. “And we’re going to have to really see.”
People arriving in recent years, and future migrants, aren’t eligible for DACA.
Mr. Trump said that U.S. Border Patrol agents are “not allowed to properly do their job,” citing “ridiculous liberal (Democrat) laws.” “Getting more dangerous. ‘Caravans’ coming.”
He also called for Republicans to “go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws NOW,” renewing his call for the party’s Senate leaders to abolish a 60-vote threshhold required to clear procedural hurdles in the chamber and instead allow bills to advance with a simple majority.
While such a move would boost Republicans’ power at least in the short-term—they hold 51 of 100 seats in the Senate—it is seen as unlikely due to little enthusiasm in the Senate for the change. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) repeatedly has said there is no appetite for changing the 60-vote threshold.