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Congress in neutral as Trump calls for immigration changes

Published: Saturday, April 06, 2019 @ 11:13 AM

As President Donald Trump again demanded this week that lawmakers in Congress make major changes in U.S. immigration law, there was no evidence of any groundswell for legislative action in the Congress - even among Republicans in the Senate.

"We have a system that's full. It's just full," President Trump declared during a visit to the Mexican border in California on Friday, as he again urged action in Congress to reform asylum laws, end the 'visa lottery,' stop what's known as 'chain migration,' and make other changes to the immigration system.

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"We have to do something about it," Mr. Trump added. "And we're going to."

"Our country is full," the President declared.

But even as President Trump vowed to build more border fencing and again threatened to slap tariffs on cars imported from Mexico, back on Capitol Hill there was no evidence that Republicans were ready to bring legislation to the Senate floor to deal with those matters.

In the House, Democrats are certainly not going to carry the water for President Trump on immigration, as they remain dead set against his plans, and are now challenging his emergency declaration to go around Congress, and funnel money from inside the Pentagon to construction of a border wall.

"He likes shutting down things," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this week about the President's threat to close the border with Mexico.

"Shutting down the border would threaten good-paying American jobs, hurt our economy, violate our values and gravely hurt our country," Pelosi told reporters. 

Democrats emphasized their opposition to the President's threat to shut down the border by sending a group of lawmakers there to discuss the impact such a decision would have on trade, as many Republicans also cautioned the White House against such a move.

With Democrats showing little interest in the President's preferred immigration plans, that leaves the job to the GOP-controlled Senate, where last year, Mr. Trump's immigration legislation garnered only 39 votes in a Senate showdown, the fewest votes of any immigration plan considered by Senators.

"I am more convinced than ever that immediate action is needed," said Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), who went on the trip to the border with President Trump, as the Tennessee Republican said, 'this issue must be addressed in Congress.'

"There's got to be an orderly system," said Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK). "I understand the President's negotiating style - he's not seeing the progress he wants."

"There is a crisis at the border, and the President recognizes that," said Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA).

"The fault rests with Congress alone," said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) of the growing illegal immigration problem at the border. "I challenge my colleagues to act."

But despite the pleas for action by the President and top members of his administration, there's been no hints of legislative movement by Senate Republicans on immigration. 

GOP Senators have not laid out the details on any comprehensive immigration bill, and no one is talking in the halls of the Capitol about Republicans bringing the President's immigration agenda to the Senate floor for a vote.

That leaves the issue on hold - as the President calls on Mexico to do more to stem the tide of illegal immigrants and illegal drugs, while members of both parties in Congress point fingers at each other over the impasse.

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