WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday there was a “good chance” Democrats would back his immigration and border protection efforts ahead of the November 2020 elections, despite their opposition to his latest plan to overhaul the current system.
In a series of early-morning tweets, the Republican president acknowledged he needs Democratic votes to pass his latest immigration plan and to secure funding to manage record migrant flows along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“The Democrats now realize that there is a National Emergency at the Border and that, if we work together, it can be immediately fixed. We need Democrat votes and all will be well!” Trump tweeted on Friday.
On Thursday, the president unveiled his latest immigration plan, calling for changes to favour young, educated, English-speaking applicants, instead of people with family ties to relatives in the United States. The proposal is expected to have little chance of being approved by the divided Congress.
He also asked for $4.5 billion from lawmakers to help house, feed, transport and oversee Central American families seeking asylum.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday appeared open to approving the emergency funds, saying money to alleviate the humanitarian crisis at the nation’s southern border could be included in pending disaster relief legislation.
Democrats on Thursday night offered Republicans “several billion” dollars for border relief, a House aide said.
Democrats were unmoved, however, by Trump’s immigration proposal, which does not address one of their key issues: protection for so-called “Dreamers,” the roughly 11 million people brought to the country illegally as children.
The president’s plan was “dead on arrival,” Pelosi said on Thursday.
His proposal also drew concerns from hardline conservatives who want to reduce immigration. Trump’s plan, however, keeps overall numbers flat but shifts to a “merit-based” system.
To pass any bill, Trump would need to win over both Democrats, who control the U.S. House of Representatives, and Republicans, who narrowly hold the Senate.
In unveiling his plan on Thursday, Trump eyed the election, saying if Democrats did not support his measure Republicans would win back the House in November 2020, then pass it.
Republicans held the chamber for Trump’s first two years in office but failed to pass any immigration overhaul. A bipartisan immigration deal hammered out last year also failed after Trump refused to back it.
(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)