WASHINGTON—The White House on Thursday said it would veto any immigration legislation that included the amendment introduced by senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mike Rounds (D-S.D.), and Angus King (I-Maine).
“The administration strongly opposes passage of the Schumer-Rounds-Collins amendment,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. “This amendment would drastically change our national immigration policy for the worse by weakening border security and undercutting existing immigration law.”
The Schumer-Rounds-Collins would render Homeland Security unable to remove most of the estimated 11 million illegal aliens who are currently in the United States, as well as any who could get here by June 30, 2018.
DHS could only remove criminal aliens, national security threats, and those who arrive after June 30—which would create a “massive surge at the border for the next four months,” the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a fact sheet published on Feb. 15.
DHS said the amendment would be “the end of immigration enforcement in America.”
“By halting immigration enforcement for all aliens who will arrive before June 2018, it ignores the lessons of 9/11 and significantly increases the risk of crime and terrorism,” DHS said.
In a press call on Feb. 15, a White House official called the Schumer-Rounds-Collins amendment “totally unworkable and reckless.”
“All of the operators who looked at it, and the DOJ, were stunned beyond words. I mean, no one has ever seen anything like this,” the official said. “If this was introduced in the normal course of events—like the way the Gang of Eight introduced their bill a long time ago—it wouldn’t have lasted 24 hours.”
An administration official said, “It is really an unbelievable future amnesty provision that no one here had ever seen and we’re astounded that members of the Senate were attempting to push this through.”
The White House has thrown its full support behind a bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
A draft of the “Secure and Succeed Act” by Grassley was released on Feb. 11 and subsequently updated in preparation to hit the Senate floor on Feb. 14.
The bill addresses Trump’s four immigration priorities, including securing the border and closing legal loopholes, ending chain migration in favor of a merit-based system, ending the diversity visa lottery, and giving amnesty to 1.8 million illegal aliens, including recipients in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The White House official said Grassley’s bill is the only one being discussed in the Senate that has a chance of becoming a law.
Trump also said he was “encouraged” with legislation by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), which is gaining momentum in the House.
In September last year, Trump announced a phase out of the DACA program and gave Congress until March 5 to come up with a permanent solution.
Two federal judges have since ruled that Trump cannot end DACA on March 5, and the program remains in place until the Supreme Court decides whether to take up the government’s appeal on the first of these rulings.
Former President Barack Obama introduced DACA in 2012 by executive order after legislation giving amnesty to people who entered the country illegally as children failed to pass in Congress.