Backlash over Trump’s comments stall bipartisan push for DACA deal

Lawmakers and other politicians were at odds Sunday about whether they think Congress will be able to reach an immigration deal amid the outcry over President Donald Trump’s remarks about immigrants from certain countries last week.

While some expressed optimism about negotiating a bipartisan deal, they also bemoaned the backlash over Trump’s reported remarks, which have stalled immigration talks as Congress grapples with spending legislation to avoid a government shutdown at the end of this week.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said Sunday that he was “encouraged” by the bipartisan effort, but added, “We’ve got to move on” from the controversy spawned by Trump’s reported Oval Office comments in a meeting with lawmakers Thursday, in which the President said certain African immigrants come from “sh**hole countries.”

Congress and the White House shouldn’t “let it stop the whole procedure,” Manchin said in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“I mean, first of all, we have a bipartisan recommendation, a bipartisan legislation, that’s been worked on, worked out, after they sat down last week with the President,” he said. “And it seems to do everything that was asked of them. … I would be very, very encouraged that, hopefully, all of my colleagues are going to look at this in a very positive way. And if the President said what he said, as far as you give me something in a bipartisan way, something you work out, and I’ll sign it, we hope to get that done and move on.”

Democrats have been demanding protections for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in exchange for border security funding that could include money for Trump’s promised border wall. In September, the administration announced the end of the Obama-era DACA program, which has protected undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children from being deported, but gave a window until March for Congress to take action to keep it in place.

Trump has denied making the vulgar remarks in the White House meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers, tweeting Friday: “The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!”

Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado also said Sunday that he believes the proposed deal has the support it needs and it shouldn’t be bogged down in politics.

“This first four-part deal that we’ve put together … begins to address the challenge in front of us,” Gardner said on CBS’s “Face the Nattion.” This isn’t going to solve everything at once, but it does solve a very important piece. And then we can build trust with the American people that we’ve done our jobs, we’ve improved security, we’ve fixed the challenge these ‘Dreamers’ face and we can do in a way the President signs with the majority of Republican and Democratic support. And let the people who want to play politics, let them play politics, but that’s not what this moment is about.”

But Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky gave a pessimistic view of the situation.

“I do want to see an immigration compromise, and you can’t have a compromise if everybody is out there calling the President a racist,” Paul said on NBC’s Meet the Press.” “They’re actually destroying the setting, and he’s a little bit of it, but both sides now are destroying the setting in which anything meaningful can happen on immigration.”

Former Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” that the President, rather than lawmakers, has held up progress.

“First of all, Jake, we are there,” he said. “This is the President’s fault. You have a vast agreement between the Democrats and the Republicans. If you put a bill up Tuesday, they would vote for it, and it would overwhelmingly pass.”

McAuliffe said he believes Trump wants a deal, but is being advised by White House policy aide and immigration hardliner Stephen Miller to demand restrictions on the immigration system and funding for the border wall.

“He is being run by Stephen Miller,” McAuliffe said. “What does the President want? He wants a deal to announce, and he wants his approval ratings to go up.”

“You have a deal with Republicans and Democrats today,” he added “Thirty-four Republicans in the House have signed a letter they will support this. Let’s just get it done.”