- The Washington Times - Monday, February 11, 2019

President Trump on Monday said he would not sign a bill that would result in the “mass release” of criminals into the U.S., potentially complicating the new deal negotiators announced on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Trump said he hadn’t heard full details, but said he would also build his border wall no matter what the deal included.

“We’re building the wall anyway,” the president said at a rally in El Paso, Texas.

He told cheering supporters he’d been told about the deal just before taking the stage at the rally, but he told aides he would wait to hear details later, saying he didn’t want to keep supporters waiting.

He did, though, draw some lines.

“I will never sign a bill that forces the mass release of violent criminals into our country,” he said.

That was a response to Democrats‘ proposal over the weekend to limit the number of illegal immigrants detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to just 34,000, with only 16,500 of them coming from ICE’s own interior arrests. The rest would come from the border.

Democrats appeared to have backed off that strict limit, according to reports about the deal.

Instead, negotiators agreed to an average daily ICE detention population of slightly more than 40,000.

Still, given that ICE has averaged nearly 46,000 a day for the first four months of the fiscal year, that likely would mean the agency will have to cut its levels to between 34,000 and 36,000 for the rest of this year in order to meet the new restrictions.

Whether that would result in the mass releases Mr. Trump warned against was unclear, though his rhetoric seemed skeptical.

“If we cut detention space we are cutting loose dangerous criminals,” he said in Texas.

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