President Trump has had enough of Sen. Lindsey Graham’s double-crossing and his botched attempt at creating a bipartisan deal on immigration, so Trump has decided to not allow him in the new rounds of negotiations on the plan for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and border security, reports The Washington Times.
Graham has appeared to have accepted his dismissal and looked to the chamber’s No. 2 leaders, Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and Democrat Sen. Richard Durbin, to carry the process forward.
“They’re respected by their conferences,” Graham said Tuesday. “I’m trying to create a process where all this bipartisanship has a place to go. So if Cornyn and Durbin can work together and receive input, they can give us an idea of whether we can get a bill or what a base bill would look like.”
The White House rejected the deal put forward by the bipartisan gang, which was led by Graham and Durbin, and ruled that it was a nonstarter in the new round of talks.
“In short, it is totally unacceptable to the president and should be declared dead on arrival,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
A day after Senate Democrats agreed to reopen the government, lawmakers were back at the negotiating table looking for a fix to DACA, the Obama-era amnesty for illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have been dubbed “Dreamers.”
Now, a broader group of about 25 Senate moderates from both parties are going to attempt the negotiations again instead of the gang of six.
Republicans on Capitol Hill voiced frustration with Graham’s maneuvering on immigration, including holding him partially responsible for the shutdown.
“What we saw in the behavior of Sen. Durbin and Sen. Graham was like a child’s tantrum,” said a GOP aide. “You should never have a meeting and put on the theater for the media that we saw.”
The two senators emerged from a meeting on Jan. 11 with President Trump where he rejected their proposal and Sen. Durbin vouches that he then called Haiti, El Salvador, and some African countries “S***hole countries.”
The deal that Graham and Durbin put forward offered a generous pathway to citizenship for as many as 2 million illegal immigrants, but it fell short of Trump’s demand for an end to family-based chain migration, a cancellation of the visa diversity lottery program, and increase border security including the funding for a border wall.
However, Durbin still believes that the deal he had made with Graham is still alive and well.
“The president doesn’t get to pick the senators that pass bills in the Senate [and] I’m sure Sen. Graham would agree,” Durbin told The Washington Times. “We’ll do our best to facilitate moving toward a bipartisan agreement and whether it has my name on it or not is insignificant. We want to achieve our goal.”
But Durbin would not officially say if Graham would be at the forefront of the talks anymore: “I’d say we are both still personally involved and we have been for a long time,” he said. “We’ve invited new players into the room and new senators to the table, and that’s a good thing.”
Sarah Sanders has said that the president would play a “big role” in the negotiations but stressed that it was Congress’ job to send a bill to his desk. Trump has insisted a fix to DACA that has to include strong border security and significant changes to legal immigration.
“You can’t fix the problem is you just tinker with immigration in a small way,” said Sanders. “We want to make sure we are not having this conversation and fight in two years, three years and four years. We want to address making a permanent solution to DACA at the same time closing the loopholes so we don’t have to continue having this battle.”