As President Donald Trump rolls out new plans Thursday to slow the surge in migrants trying to make it across the southern border of the United States, a key GOP lawmaker in Congress said Wednesday that the only chance for anything to get done in the House and Senate is a compromise - with both parties giving in on controversial immigration policy matters.
"To get what you want, you've got to give something," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), as he told reporters that it's obvious the President does not have the votes to do what he wants on immigration - and neither do the Democrats.
"You're going to have to get Democrats in the room," Graham told reporters. "This is the time for the Tuesday Trump to show up."
What Graham meant by that was a White House meeting which took place on a Tuesday in early 2018, where President Trump told a bipartisan group of Senators - in a meeting shown on TV - that if they could forge a deal among themselves on immigration, then he would sign it.
“I'll take the heat,” the President said. “I don't care.”
But the idea went sideways quickly.
"We sent him a bill - and he didn't sign it," Graham recounted, as more conservative lawmakers and aides intervened, derailing a compromise which would have involved $25 billion for the President's border wall, in exchange for protections for some illegal immigrant 'Dreamers.'
Graham's comments came as he unveiled a series of new immigration plans on Wednesday, mainly designed to limit asylum claims, forcing those from Mexico and Central America to make those only in their home country - not at the U.S. border, or when they are apprehended.
Graham's plan would also treat unaccompanied children like those from Mexico or Canada - they would be sent back right away, and not allowed to stay in the U.S., which he says has become a magnet, and one reason the numbers of migrants has jumped dramatically.
Lindsey Graham: "Word is out on the street in Central America that if you bring a minor child with you your chance of being deported goes to almost zero. Your hearing date is years away and we release you inside the country and that's the goal of coming" https://t.co/AfEIFrfeM5 pic.twitter.com/Rk1DE7Wp1h— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) May 15, 2019
The South Carolina Republican - who said he still considers himself a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform - said he plans to use his Senate Judiciary Committee in an effort to forge a bipartisan consensus on immigration.
But he knows it will take more than Senators.
"So, I am urging the President to lead us to a solution," Graham said, as he also pressed Democrats to overcome their distaste for Mr. Trump.
"Find a solution to this problem, quickly," Graham added.
So far the reaction among Republicans to the plan being released by the President on Thursday has been cool - as reviews were decidedly mixed after a closed door meeting of top White House officials, including Presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, with GOP Senators on Tuesday.
"...some GOP senators left the meeting wondering whether Kushner understood the issue... “He’s in his own little world,” said one individual familiar with the discussion in the meeting...'https://t.co/a9gse8Pl0O— Glenn Thrush (@GlennThrush) May 15, 2019
While President Trump has aggressively pushed Congress to act on changes to U.S. immigration laws, he has had little success either in forcing votes, or in forging a plan which could gain even a majority in the Congress.
In February of 2018, the Senate voted on four different immigration plans; the one backed by President Trump netted only 39 votes, the smallest of the four.