President Trump seemed to undercut House GOP leaders’ new immigration bill Friday, suggesting in an interview that he “certainly wouldn’t sign” it if it reached his desk.
Mr. Trump, interviewed on the “Fox & Friends” morning program, was asked about the two bills GOP leaders will put up for votes next week. One is an enforcement-focused bill by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, while the other is a compromise overseen by the party leaders, which combines an amnesty for some illegal immigrants with major changes to enforcement and pathways for legal immigration.
“I’m looking at both of them. I certainly wouldn’t sign the more moderate one,” Mr. Trump said.
Hours later he issued a tweet that did little to clear up matters.
“Any Immigration Bill MUST HAVE full funding for the Wall, end Catch & Release, Visa Lottery and Chain, and go to Merit Based Immigration. Go for it! WIN!” he wrote.
His apparent opposition was a surprise because House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said this week that the bill was written “hand-in-glove” with the administration specifically to meet Mr. Trump’s four pillars for immigration.
The bill would couple a legalization similar to the one Mr. Trump himself proposed earlier this year with funding for the border wall, limits to the chain of family migration and an end to the visa lottery that doles out immigration passes by luck of the draw.
The House leaders’ bill goes further, though, and closes many of the “loopholes” Mr. Trump has complained about that underpin the so-called “catch-and-release” policy that prevents speedy deportations.
The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on why Mr. Trump said he wouldn’t sign the bill.
His opposition could be devastating to GOP leaders, who had hoped Mr. Trump’s support would help give cover to conservatives who are reluctant to embrace an amnesty but might be swayed if this president were to get behind it.
Mr. Trump said he believes his get-tough approach to immigration is a winner in elections, and he ticked off what he wants to see in any bill.
“I need a bill that gives this country tremendous border security. I have to have that,” he said.
Mr. Trump said Friday that includes ending the “catch-and-release” of illegal immigrants.
“We catch a criminal, a real criminal, a rough, tough, criminal, we take his name and then we release him, and we say, ‘Please show up to court in a couple of months,’” Mr. Trump said. “You know what the chances of getting him to court are? Like zero.”