Organizers of a so-called “caravan” of 1,100 foreigners from Central America seeking to enter America illegally claimed that nothing would stop them.
President Donald Trump just delivered some bad news to those potential illegal immigrants. The president dangled the NAFTA negotiations in front of Mexico’s leadership — and they cracked down on the caravan before it ever reached the U.S. border. Now, Trump is taking steps to make sure nothing like that ever happens again.
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Trump administration officials said they’re crafting a new legislative package aimed at closing immigration “loopholes” after the president called on Republican lawmakers to immediately pass a border bill using the “Nuclear Option if necessary” to muscle it through.
The big Caravan of People from Honduras, now coming across Mexico and heading to our “Weak Laws” Border, had better be stopped before it gets there. Cash cow NAFTA is in play, as is foreign aid to Honduras and the countries that allow this to happen. Congress MUST ACT NOW!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 3, 2018
Mexico quickly responded, and announced early Tuesday they had rushed to disband the huge illegal immigration effort.
The president has been tweeting about immigration and the border for the last few days, declaring protections for so-called Dreamer illegals “dead,” accusing Democrats of allowing “open borders, drugs and crime” and warning Mexico to halt the passage of “caravans” of immigrants or risk U.S. abandonment of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Trump has been seething after the major spending bill he signed last month barely funds the “big, beautiful” border wall he has promised supporters. The $1.3 trillion funding package included $1.6 billion in border wall spending, but much of that money can be used only to repair existing segments, not to build new sections.
Among the new measures the administration is pursuing: ending special safeguards that prevent the immediate deportation of children arrested at the border and traveling alone. Under current law, unaccompanied children from countries that don’t border the U.S. are turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services and undergo often lengthy deportation proceedings before an immigration judge instead of being deported.
The administration is also pushing Congress to terminate a 1997 court settlement that requires the government to release underage illegal immigrants from custody to parents, adult relatives or other caretakers as their court cases proceed. Officials complain that most illegals simply never show up at their hearings.
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The proposals appear the same as those included on an immigration wish list the White House released in October but failed to gain traction during negotiations over the border wall. Such proposals are likely to face opposition from establishment politicians heading into the midterm elections. But Trump appears intent on ensuring the issues remain at the forefront of public conversation, even though the spending bill was widely seen as the last major legislation likely passed this year.
Trump’s past calls to for the “nuclear option” — changing Senate rules so that a simple majority of 51 votes is needed to advance legislation, instead of the current 60 votes — have been dismissed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell says Republicans will welcome the 60-vote margin if they return to the minority. The current 51-49 Senate split favors Republicans.
“Dreamer” illegal immigrants are due to lose coverage under a program Trump tried to eliminate. Notably, his favored solution for extending protections to them mustered only 39 votes in the Senate, meaning it couldn’t have passed even if the rules had been changed.
Trump’s tweets calling on Mexico to halt “caravans” followed a “Fox & Friends” report Sunday that featured the leader of the union representing border patrol agents predicting that those in the caravan would create havoc and chaos in the U.S. as they wait for immigration reform.
The Associated Press contributed to this article