President Trump Opposes, Then Supports GOP Immigration Bill — All In 1 Day Trump said Friday that he would not sign a House GOP immigration bill crafted to meet his policy demands, triggering confusion. Later, a White House spokesman said the president backed the measure.
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Trump Injects Chaos Into Immigration Debate — Opposing, Then Backing GOP Bill

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Trump Injects Chaos Into Immigration Debate — Opposing, Then Backing GOP Bill

Trump Injects Chaos Into Immigration Debate — Opposing, Then Backing GOP Bill

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

House Republican leaders were prepping for a vote next week on immigration legislation that they negotiated with conservatives and moderates, but President Trump threw a wrench into that when he suggested this morning that he didn't support their efforts. NPR's Kelsey Snell has the latest on this and joins us here in the studio. Hey there, Kelsey.

KELSEY SNELL, BYLINE: Hi there.

CORNISH: There's a lot of confusion here.

SNELL: Yes (laughter).

CORNISH: Break it down for us. What happened?

SNELL: Well, we started the morning with the president saying that he didn't support the moderate bill. Now, it's important to remember that these two immigration bills - one was being negotiated with a group of moderate Republicans. The other one was being negotiated with some conservatives.

CORNISH: And the White House knew this.

SNELL: The White House knew this. The White House was involved. The White House had staff that were helping write these bills. The president said he didn't like the moderate one, but then about nine hours later, after a daylong scramble in Congress, the White House put out a new statement saying that the president supports both bills and would sign either of them.

Now, that is a really confusing situation to be in if you're House leadership attempting to actually get votes on a bill that you would like to have passed in less than a week. They were supposed to spend most of today doing that, asking these members who's going to vote for what, but they didn't get the chance. And it kind of became a chaotic day.

CORNISH: And as you said, they had hoped to vote on it next week. Is that still the plan?

SNELL: That is still the plan, but that - now that the president has weighed in, that doesn't exactly clear up the confusion because if he's supporting both bills, it makes it very hard for people to kind of figure out where they're going to go. And it puts a lot of pressure on leaders because they now really own this issue of immigration. It had been one of those things where they were fighting between Republicans and Democrats, and this moves it into a space where it is squarely a fight between Republicans about what an immigration bill should do.

And it's particularly important to a lot of these guys, like Mario Diaz-Balart from Florida, who's helping organize the moderates. I talked to him today, and he said this is the best and possibly only chance to get wall funding and other White House priorities passed.

MARIO DIAZ-BALART: It's the only shot, I believe, to legalize the DREAMers, to stop the deportation of the DREAMers and to have a permanent fix for them.

CORNISH: On another issue, the president tried to blame Democrats for the situation on the border where children are being separated from their parents. He claims that it's their fault that an immigration bill hasn't passed. Tease out these two issues. And what are Democrats saying about it?

SNELL: Democrats basically don't have anything to do with this at this point. I mean, this is a matter of the way the Trump administration is interpreting a court ruling. That is how they're deciding to do the family separation at the border.

CORNISH: So it's a policy choice, not a law.

SNELL: It is a policy choice. Now, House Speaker Paul Ryan has said that he would like to pass a law to keep families together at the border, but this is not a partisan issue at this point except for the fact that Democrats don't support the policy. Though it's important to note a lot of Republicans don't support the way the White House is interpreting this.

And again, like I said, this is a big move where Republicans are taking a lot of the political blame here. So if things don't work out, if they don't pass a bill that protects these families or they don't pass an immigration bill at all this year, it will be squarely in the court of Republicans to explain why they couldn't agree within themselves and with the president on getting that done.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Kelsey Snell. Kelsey, thank you.

SNELL: Thank you.

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