Politics

White House Adds Sweeping Immigration Bill to Lawmakers’ Agenda

Spox: After ‘three-week vacation,’ Congress should be ‘rested and ready’

Immigration rights demonstrators prepare to march from the White House to the Trump Hotel and the Justice Department to oppose President Trump's decision to end the DACA program for “dreamers” on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The White House doesn’t just want Congress to send President Donald Trump legislation addressing undocumented individuals that will lose federal protections due to his decision to end the Obama-era DACA program. Rather, the president wants them to craft a comprehensive immigration bill.

The president’s top spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, on Tuesday jabbed Congress for taking a “three-week vacation.” Their annual August break now complete, she said lawmakers should be “rested and ready to take on some big challenges,” including an immigration overhaul bill.

“We have confidence that Congress is going to step up and do their job,” Sanders said during her daily press briefing.

The president wants to see responsible immigration reform, and he wants that to be part of it,” she said.

“But again, we can't take just a one-piece fix,” Sanders told reporters. “We've got to do an overall immigration reform that's responsible and, frankly, that's lawful. And that's what the president wants to see Congress do that.”

Sen. Susan Collins said Tuesday she did not see how Congress could both authorize the DACA program and do a comprehensive immigration overhaul in six months.

“Given the short-term time frame that Congress has to act it seems to me that we should deal with the Dreamer’s problem and then later turn our attention to immigration reform in general,” the Maine Republican said.

Earlier Tuesday, Trump dispatched Attorney General Jeff Sessions to announce he is nixing deportation relief and work permits for around 800,000 people enrolled in the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA. The president’s decision came after months of internal West Wing debate.

[Lawmakers Seek Quick Action on DACA Fix]

The Obama-era program had protected certain unauthorized immigrants from deportation and allowed them to work if they came to the U.S. before turning 16 and before June 15, 2007.

She said the situation with those affected can only be addressed by Congress.

White House officials are “ready and willing to work with” lawmakers to enact “responsible immigration reform,” she said.

Congress last failed to pass a sweeping immigration overhaul bill in 2013. That bipartisan measure easily passed the Senate with members of both parties voting for it, but it soon died in the House.

Joe Williams contributed to this report.Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.