With all of the uproar over late-term abortion, it’s easy to forget that Congress is juggling other crises — including the one on our southern border. With the clock ticking down to another government shutdown, both parties have been hunkered down, trying to cobble together an immigration bill before time runs out on Friday. Yesterday, negotiators announced that they’d finally struck a deal. But agreeing to a compromise is one thing — getting the president to support it is another.
“I can’t say I’m happy,” President Trump said this afternoon. “I can’t say I’m thrilled.” It’s no wonder. The compromise includes less than a quarter of the $5.7 billion he requested for the wall. At just $1.3 billion, the administration would have enough money for 55 miles of fencing — not the 200 it wanted. In a small concession by Democrats, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) wouldn’t have to cap the number of illegal detainees it holds. But by and large, the deal doesn’t include any meaningful immigration reform — not even to the DACA program.
“I would hope that there won’t be a shutdown,” Trump said before making it clear, “I am extremely unhappy with what the Democrats have given us.” At a rally in Texas last night, the president hinted that executive actions were still on the table to finish the other 150 miles of fencing. “Just so you know,” he told the crowd in El Paso, “we’re building the wall anyway.”
That would come as relief to the dozens of sheriffs and other law enforcement who showed up on the Hill yesterday to demand better immigration enforcement. “We are at wits end on this,” said Sheriff Thomas Hodgson. “This really is a catastrophe.” Over the weekend, two national sheriffs groups delivered letters to the House and Senate warning them that if they put a limit on detainees, most of these offenders would go out “and commit more crimes.” As for cutting ICE funding — an agenda near and dear to the likes of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) — the sheriffs warned, don’t even think about it. “They put our people at risk just to take care of their political agenda,” Hodgson argued.
Elsewhere, the deal is hardly a House Freedom Caucus dream either. Democrats aren’t being “serious” about border security Chair Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) fired back. Even after hearing about the needs from people on the ground, he points out, liberals still think they know better. “Border Patrol came in to brief the conference. They gave their top-three priorities. And the conferees have said ‘zero money for those top three priorities.’ How can you be serious about securing our border if the very people that are experts on securing it say, ‘These are our top three priorities, we need money,’ and yet they’re saying, ‘zero dollars for that?'”
When it comes to a dollar figure for the wall, Meadows said there’s plenty of room for improvement. “Honestly, when you look at 0 to 5.7, somewhere in the middle would be a $2 billion to $3 billion range,” he said. “But it’s not as much just the dollar amount. It’s the flexibility in how to spend it.”
For now, President Trump insists he’s “considering everything.” One thing he won’t have to worry about is the country’s support. CBS polling showed Americans solidly in the administration’s camp on this issue. Seventy-two percent who watched the State of the Union agreed with the president’s ideas on immigration. And fortunately, those ideas didn’t include political surrender.
For more on the debate, check out FRC’s Ken Blackwell on Fox Business last night.
Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.
EDITORS NOTE: This FRC column with video and images is republished with permission.