Senators Strike Bipartisan Deal on Immigration Despite Veto Threat

The bipartisan measure would include $25 billion for the president’s proposed wall at the Mexican border and offer a path to citizenship for 1.8 million of the young undocumented immigrants, but would preclude their parents from becoming citizens, Mr. Graham said.

But in a morning statement, Mr. Trump urged senators to oppose any bill that did not also embrace the “four pillars” of his immigration approach, which includes a rewrite of the nation’s immigration laws that would close the country’s borders to many immigrants trying to come to the United States legally.

“I am asking all senators, in both parties, to support the Grassley bill and to oppose any legislation that fails to fulfill these four pillars,” Mr. Trump said in the statement, referring to the measure’s chief sponsor, Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa.

The Grassley bill would provide a path to citizenship for 1.8 million young immigrants, end the visa lottery program, build a border wall and severely limit what he calls “chain migration,” which is family-based immigration. It would also increase the use of radar and tower-based surveillance, sensors and drones mostly along the Southwest border, boost the number of border patrol agents and deploy the National Guard to help construct border fencing and operate some of the surveillance equipment.

Mr. Grassley said that in offering the young immigrants, known as Dreamers, a chance to become citizens, Mr. Trump had been “much more compassionate on a compromise than anybody thought.”

Limiting family-based immigration — which Democrats call “family reunification” — and ending the diversity visa lottery are anathema to Democrats. But it was not clear how many Democrats would sign on to the compromise as an alternative.

Senate Democrats met in a closed-door session to talk about the coalition’s plan, and lawmakers emerged saying some of their colleagues, who favor improvements in border security but have been deeply opposed to building a wall, had reservations.

“I know that people want to get some certainty for these kids,” said Senator Heidi Heitkamp, Democrat of North Dakota. She said she would support the Common Sense measure, but added, “We’re being asked to make some tough compromises.”

The president’s decision to weigh in forcefully called into question whether any compromise legislation would be dead on arrival at the president’s desk. The president’s statement came as the Senate was just beginning to debate immigration using a novel approach in which lawmakers are trying to build a bill from scratch on the Senate floor.


Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who is aligned with Mr. Trump’s plan for immigration reform, on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

Eric Thayer for The New York Times

“He’s not helpful at all,’’ said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate. “All he does is create a crisis and can’t help us solve it.”

In his morning statement, Mr. Trump said that the “overwhelming majority of American voters support a plan that fulfills the Framework’s four pillars, which move us towards the safe, modern, and lawful immigration system our people deserve.”

He added that he would oppose a smaller, “Band-aid” approach to immigration that some lawmakers have been discussing, which would protect Dreamers for a few years in exchange for a small increase in border security spending — essentially kicking the issue down the road.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, responded harshly to the president’s remarks, noting with dismay that Mr. Trump last September ended the Obama-era program known as DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which protected the Dreamers from deportation and provided them work permits.

“The American people know what’s going on,” Mr. Schumer said on the Senate floor. “They know this president not only created the problem, but seems to be against every solution that might pass because it isn’t 100 percent of what he wants. If, at the end of the week, we are unable to find a bill that can pass — and I sincerely hope that’s not the case due to the good efforts of so many people on both sides of the aisle — the responsibility will fall entirely on the president’s shoulders and those in this body who went along with him.”

Mr. Trump’s statement was a victory for conservatives in his administration, including Stephen Miller, his top domestic policy adviser, who have been pushing the president to demand an overhaul of the nation’s immigration rules in exchange for his support of a permanent solution for the Dreamers.

Several senior White House advisers told reporters on Wednesday that Mr. Trump will not relent in his support for his hard-line immigration principles and said Dreamers should blame Democrats if legislation does not pass.


Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Senate minority leader, responded harshly to Mr. Trump’s demand for agreement with his plan on immigration.

Lawrence Jackson for The New York Times

One senior adviser, who requested anonymity to discuss legislative strategy, said the president had made “dramatic concessions” by agreeing to a path to citizenship for 1.8 million young immigrants. Another made it clear that Mr. Trump will not compromise any further.

That position was underscored on Wednesday by a Department of Homeland Security statement that slammed a competing immigration measure being offered by Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware.

That bipartisan bill would call for more border security, but would not directly finance construction of a border wall that Mr. Trump has promised. The bill would offer a way for Dreamers to become legal; the D.H.S. statement described it as a “mass legalization” measure.

“The McCain-Coons proposal would increase illegal immigration, surge chain migration, continue catch-and-release and give a pathway to citizenship to convicted alien felons,” the statement from the department said.

The top Republicans in both the House and Senate praised the statements from the administration on Wednesday, describing them as a boost for the approach that many of their more conservative members support.

“The president has made clear what principles must be addressed if we are going to make a law instead of merely making political points,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, said Wednesday morning.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin echoed that sentiment, saying that “the president did a very good job of putting a very sincere offer on the table. And that sincere offer that he put on the table should be the framework through which we come together to find a solution.”

While the president’s support of the Iowa Republican’s bill is not surprising, his vague promise not to support other bills is notable, as Mr. Trump told lawmakers last month that he would sign any immigration bill that Congress sends him. Republican leaders have said Congress should only pass legislation that Mr. Trump would sign, but how flexible the president would be was a key question for lawmakers.

Asked about Mr. Trump’s veto threat, Mr. Graham said, “Well, then, we won’t go very far. Then you’ll have three presidents who failed. You’ll have Obama, Bush and Trump.”

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