Trump’s conflicting rhetoric on border separations muddles immigration debate

PHOTO: A Mission Police Dept. officer (L), and a U.S. Border Patrol agent watch over a group of Central American asylum seekers before taking them into custody on June 12, 2018 near McAllen, Texas.


At the end of a particularly acrimonious week, President Donald Trump roiled tensions once again with vacillating rhetoric over the ongoing immigration debate fueled by family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border.

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In a stark message to members of his own party on Capitol Hill Friday morning, Trump instructed Republican lawmakers to “stop wasting your time” on a legislative fix for immigration until after the midterm elections in November.

Senate Republicans hold a two-seat majority and are defending eight seats this election cycle.

Ahead of his expected remarks Friday with Angel Families — the loved ones of those killed by illegal immigrants — Trump’s latest Twitter crusade comes after telling members, “I’m with you 100%” during a closed-door meeting Tuesday with House Republicans on immigration, according to a statement from White House principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah.

John Moore/Getty Images
A Mission Police Dept. officer (L), and a U.S. Border Patrol agent watch over a group of Central American asylum seekers before taking them into custody on June 12, 2018 near McAllen, Texas.

Later on Tuesday, the president echoed the message on Twitter, urging, “Now is the best opportunity ever for Congress to change the ridiculous and obsolete laws on immigration.”

By Friday, frustrated with Republicans in the House of Representatives for failing to pass a conservative immigration bill on Thursday and delaying a planned vote on a GOP compromise measure until next week, Trump launched a rallying cry for his base, calling on voters to “elect more Republicans” to pass the “pass the finest, fairest and most comprehensive Immigration Bills anywhere in the world.”

Hoping to reform an immigration system that is said to be “broken” by members of both sides of the aisle, Republican lawmakers aimed to implement legislative reforms that would address the ongoing crisis over the Trump’s administration’s “zero tolerance” policy after outrage erupted over family separations at the border.

Contending with vote counts wasn’t the GOP’s only struggle this week, however, as they worked to parse the president’s shifting signals and policy pivots.

Trump signed an executive order ending family separations on Wednesday telling reporters: “I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated.”

Later that evening, he told a crowd during a rally in Duluth, Minn., “They’re not sending their finest. We’re sending them the hell back! That’s what we’re doing.”

PHOTO: President Donald Trump makes his first visit to Minnesota as president on June 20, 2018, in Duluth, Minn.Glen Stubbe/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS/Newscom
President Donald Trump makes his first visit to Minnesota as president on June 20, 2018, in Duluth, Minn.

As questions loomed over how the administration will reunite the more than 2,300 children with their parents who were apprehended after crossing the border and face criminal prosecution, the president said during a cabinet meeting Thursday, “I’m directing HHS, DHS and DOJ to work together to keep illegal immigrant families together during the immigration process and to reunite these previously separated groups.”

“But the only real solution is for Congress to close the catch-and-release loopholes that have fueled the child smuggling industry,” he added.

With another tweet Friday, Trump again struck a more antagonistic tone on the issue, offering a preview ahead of his remarks.

“We must maintain a Strong Southern Border,” he wrote. “We cannot allow our Country to be overrun by illegal immigrants as the Democrats tell their phony stories of sadness and grief, hoping it will help them in the elections.”

Trump is expected to speak alongside Angel Families at 2:30 p.m at the White House.





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