Senate Republicans Say Trump Ruled Out 'Dreamer' Protections In Spending Bill

WASHINGTON ― Senate Republicans said Thursday that President Donald Trump has ruled out what some consider the best hope for undocumented young people who could face deportation because of him: attaching protections for the the so-called Dreamers to an omnibus government spending bill.

The hard line, if Trump and his party stick to it, will likely lead to a government shutdown fight. Some Democrats have said they won’t support a spending bill in December, when current government funding expires, without protections for Dreamers, setting the stage for the possible shutdown.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Republicans likely won’t address the status of Dreamers ― undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children ― until January or February. He was among the Senate Republicans who met with the president earlier Thursday.

The Dreamer issue “is not going to be part of the year-end omnibus ... and it’s not going to be done on a standalone basis,” Cornyn told reporters at the Capitol. “I think everybody understands that, but they just want to deny the reality. But that’s what’s going to happen.”

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who also attended the meeting with Trump, said, “We definitely ruled out putting any kind” of protections for Dreamers in an omnibus spending bill. “Period. End of story.”

Instead, dealing with the Dreamers must be part of larger legislation that addresses other immigration issues, he said.

Nearly 700,000 young immigrants are at risk of losing deportation protections and work authorization because of Trump’s decision in October to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA. The program allows young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to stay and work legally on a temporary basis.

The party line from the president and Republicans has been that Congress had six months from Trump’s announcement on ending DACA to come up with a plan to prevent large-scale deportations. After the six-month period, larger numbers of DACA recipients who the president barred from renewing their status will begin to lose it. In reality, though, DACA recipients are already being affected by the decision.

Trump’s decision to end the program prevented anyone without protections from receiving them. It also will lead to some current recipients losing their status before March 6. As many as 22,000 people who were eligible under the president’s plan to renew their status under DACA did not do so, according to the Department of Homeland Security, which administers the program.

They will become at risk of deportation before March 6, which is why immigrant rights advocates have said Congress must act as soon as possible, rather than waiting until early next year.

Some immigrant rights advocates believe that attaching Dreamer protections to a spending bill is the best ― or only ― way to get them through Congress. Some conservative House members said last week that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told them he believed DACA provisions would be in the spending deal, although he later denied it.

Democrats have signaled openness to going along with some border security measures as part of approving DACA protections ― but not the long wish list sent by Trump to make sweeping changes to the immigration system, largely with the goals of driving out undocumented people and cutting legal paths to the country.

Cotton, who has with Trump’s backing pushed for a bill that would cut legal immigration in half, said that there was agreement at Thursday's meeting with Trump that a DACA package must end so-called “chain migration,” which allows people to sponsor for visas family members besides spouses and unmarried minor children.

“The logical, coherent, tightly wound package of giving legal status to the DACA recipients is trying to control" chain migration, as well as measures for greater enforcement of immigration laws, he said. Such measures include enhanced border security, hiring more immigration judges and mandating employment verification of immigration status.

But at the same time, Cotton said such a legislative package should not be “comprehensive.”

“If you keep trying to add more and more into the bill, I think it likely collapses under its own weight,” he said.

Cornyn said Trump asked that any DACA package it address chain migration and the diversity visa lottery.

Trump has called on Congress to eliminate the latter program following the terrorist attack in New York City on Tuesday allegedly perpetrated by a Uzbek immigrant who came to the U.S. in 2010 on a diversity visa. Those visas are granted each year to about 50,000 people from countries with lower immigration levels, about half of them in Africa.

Diversity visa lottery winners undergo security screening before being approved, although the White House falsely said they do not. Authorities have said the New York terror suspect was likely radicalized once in the U.S.

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who was also in the meeting with Trump but declined to comment on its specifics, said he favors ending the diversity visa lottery, although not necessarily as part of a DACA package. He is a sponsor of a bill that would grant legal status to certain Dreamers, and said it was important that a DACA package not get too bloated.

“There are a lot of issues on immigration,” Lankford said. “The challenge has been it gets so big, at some point it gets so weighty, that everyone has enough reasons to vote against it as well as for it and it dies.”

Also on HuffPost

April 2015

At an event hosted by Texas Patriots PAC: “Everything’s coming across the border: the illegals, the cars, the whole thing. It’s like a big mess. Blah. It’s like vomit.”

June 2015

At a speech announcing his campaign: "When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."

August 2015

On NBC's "Meet the Press": “We’re going to keep the families together, we have to keep the families together, but they have to go." 

September 2015

On CBS's "60 Minutes": “We’re rounding ‘em up in a very humane way, in a very nice way. And they’re going to be happy because they want to be legalized. And, by the way, I know it doesn’t sound nice. But not everything is nice.”

November 2015

On MSNBC's "Morning Joe": “You are going to have a deportation force, and you are going to do it humanely." 

February 2016

At a GOP primary debate: “We have at least 11 million people in this country that came in illegally. They will go out. They will come back ― some will come back, the best, through a process.”

March 2016

At a press conference when asked if he would consider allowing undocumented immigrants to stay: "We either have a country or we don’t. We either have a country or we don’t. We have borders or we don’t have borders. And at this moment, the answer is absolutely not.”

April 2016

At an event hosted by NBC's "Today Show": “They’re going to go, and we’re going to create a path where we can get them into this country legally, OK? But it has to be done legally. ... They’re going to go, and then come back and come back legally.”

July 2016

At the Republican National Convention: "Tonight, I want every American whose demands for immigration security have been denied ― and every politician who has denied them ― to listen very closely to the words I am about to say. On January 21st of 2017, the day after I take the oath of office, Americans will finally wake up in a country where the laws of the United States are enforced."

September 2016

At a rally: “Anyone who has entered the United States illegally is subject to deportation. That is what it means to have laws and to have a country. Otherwise we don’t have a country.”

September 2016

On "The Dr. Oz Show": “Well, under my plan the undocumented or, as you would say, illegal immigrant wouldn’t be in the country. They only come in the country legally.”

Love HuffPost? Become a founding member of HuffPost Plus today.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.