- Win McNamee/Getty Images
- President Donald Trump said he would welcome another government shutdown if Congress fails to reach a solution on immigration and border security.
- Trump said lawmakers must close “loopholes” that allow gang members to enter the country.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he’d “love to see a shutdown” of the federal government over immigration legislation if Congress cannot close what Trump called “loopholes” in immigration laws that allow alleged gang members to enter the country and evade deportation.
“If we don’t change the legislation, if we don’t get rid of these loopholes where killers are allowed to come into our country and continue to kill. … If we don’t change it, let’s have a shutdown,” Trump said. “We’ll do a shutdown. And it’s worth it for our country. I’d love to see a shutdown if we don’t get this stuff taken care of.”
Trump made the comments at a roundtable with Homeland Security officials and lawmakers over the street gang MS-13. Among the top concerns that immigration officials sought to underscore in the meeting were immigration benefits granted to those who seek entry into the US as unaccompanied minors.
Officials told Trump that the Department of Homeland Security has no authority to refuse entry to immigrants with gang affiliations, based on those gang affiliations alone. Nor does the department have the authority to deport gang members – they must first have committed a violent crime, the officials said.
“We’re going to get it stopped,” Trump said. “And if we have to shut it down because the Democrats don’t want safety – and unrelated but still related, they don’t want to take care of our military – then shut it down. We’ll go with another shutdown.”
Trump’s comments came amid congressional negotiations over the fate of “Dreamers,” young unauthorized immigrants whose protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program are being phased out. Lawmakers are attempting to craft bipartisan deals that address DACA, along with Trump’s other three so-called “pillars” of immigration reform: border security funding, terminating the diversity visa lottery, and ending certain family-sponsored immigration categories.
Trump’s shutdown threat received some pushback during the meeting, with Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock chastising Trump and noting that neither party wants a shutdown and both are in favor of cracking down on MS-13.
“We don’t need a government shutdown on this,” Comstock said.
“You can say what you want, we are not getting the support of the Democrats,” Trump said, interrupting her.
The current funding agreement runs out Thursday. The House has put legislation on the table to keep the government from shutting down, but it does not address the future of the DACA program.