• Congress idle as Trump calls for action on immigration

    By: Jamie Dupree

    Updated:

    As President Donald Trump on Wednesday once more called for Congress to change America's laws dealing with illegal immigration, threatening again to close part of the Mexican border, and vowing to send more armed soldiers to help stop illegal immigrants trying to enter the United States, there was no evidence that Republicans in the Senate - or Democrats in the House - were ready to launch any legislative drive to help deal with the tide of migrants.

    In a speech at an opioids conference in Atlanta on Tuesday, the President again appealed for action to change what he said were 'horrible, obsolete, weak, pathetic, immigration laws."

    "And that's why I've declared a national emergency, which is exactly what it is," Mr. Trump added.

    "Our facilities are at full capacity," Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said earlier this week, as he echoed the President's call for lawmakers to help deal with those coming across the border illegally.

    "Congress must act with additional authorities, resources & tools in order to accomplish our humanitarian & security mission," the new DHS chief tweeted.

    Earlier this week, the President's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, said he was putting the final touches on an immigration package to be presented to his father in coming days.

    But there was no indication of whether that plan would be presented to Congress for action, of it would serve as only a partial guide for lawmakers on the politically sensitive subject.

    “We desperately need some immigration legislation," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Fox News earlier this month. 

    "It is finally time for us to step up and not only solve the crisis at the border, but do some changes to immigration laws that are sensible," the Kentucky Republican added, saying it's time to end 'years of gridlock' on immigration matters.

    At this point though in the halls of the Congress, there is no indication that lawmakers will be voting on any immigration plan anytime soon.

    For obvious reasons, Democrats aren't interested in taking the lead for the President on immigration legislation, pointing back to early 2018, when a bipartisan Senate group seemingly reached an immigration deal which was acceptable to President Trump - only to watch him quickly tack away.

    "The President put forth his criteria. He had the Senate Republicans and Democrats come together, proposed something to him and then he walked away from it," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

    Back in February 2018, the President's preferred immigration plan garnered only 39 votes, with 13 GOP Senators refusing to support Mr. Trump's nearly $100 billion package.

    That plan featured money to build a border wall, an end to chain migration, stopping a visa lottery, and a number of other immigration law changes desired by the President.

    But it won the votes of only three Democrats, mainly because it did not do enough to help younger illegal immigrant "Dreamers" in the country under the DACA program.

    The House and Senate are currently out on a two week break for Easter; immigration legislation is not on the agenda in either legislative body at this point.

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