WASHINGTON — President Trump’s legislation to reopen the government appeared almost certain to stall in the Senate, as Democrats condemned the measure’s proposed changes to asylum rules and the Supreme Court on Tuesday undercut the central plank of Trump’s effort to draw Democratic support.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., intends to hold a vote this week on the Trump-backed legislation that would reopen the government and provide $5.7 billion in taxpayer funding for new walls along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Democrats have blocked any new wall funding, and the impasse has caused the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. The partial government shutdown entered its second month Tuesday, and 800,000 federal workers face missing a second consecutive paycheck Friday.

Hoping to entice some Democrats to support a new Senate proposal, Trump offered a three-year pause in his efforts to end immigration rules that shield some immigrants from deportation. The rules are a Democratic priority, as they protect the “dreamers,” a group that includes 700,000 young people brought illegally to the United States as children who won temporary deportation protections under the Obama-era program formally known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

But the Supreme Court on Tuesday weakened Trump’s offer, saying it would take no action on lower court rulings that had blocked Trump from ending DACA. If the high court sticks to its normal procedures, the earliest it could rule would be in early 2020.

With the court seemingly keeping the program safe for at least a year, Trump’s promises to suspend his efforts to try to end it became less appealing to lawmakers who were already skeptical.


McConnell praised the new plan in a Senate floor speech Tuesday, saying: “To reject this proposal, Democrats would have to prioritize political combat with the president ahead of federal workers, ahead of DACA recipients, ahead of border security, and ahead of stable and predictable government funding. Is that really a price that Democrats want to pay to prolong this episode, which they say they want to be over and done with?”

But Democratic opposition to Trump’s offer further solidified Monday night when, after the GOP released the Senate legislation, lawmakers and immigration activists discovered it contains stringent new limits on the U.S. asylum program.

The legislation specifies that children younger than 18 from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala cannot apply for asylum at U.S. border, and instead would be turned away, because of a new requirement that they apply from their home country. The law would also create a new cap on 15,000 on the number of children who could qualify each year for the asylum program.

Additionally, the legislation says that children who qualify for this program can only do so if they have a U.S.-based guardian to care for them. Immigration experts said the changes would effectively bar Central American minors arriving at U.S. borders from access to asylum, and Democrats described them as a deal-killer.

“The legislation includes incredibly partisan changes to our asylum system that make it nearly impossible for migrants to claim asylum at our border, a dramatic change in what America has been all about,” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor. “The asylum changes are a poison pill if there ever was one, and show the lack of good faith that the president and now Leader McConnll have.”

A spokesman for McConnell’s office directed questions about the asylum changes in the legislation to the administration. White House officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Democrats’ vow to block the Senate Republican bill leaves no clear path to ending the shutdown. House Democrats aim to pass legislation this week that would reopen the government while blocking any new wall funding, but Trump has repeatedly rejected similar bills and McConnell has said the Senate won’t take them up.

Trump and his chief negotiating rival, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., both promised Tuesday morning they would not give in.

In a morning post on Twitter, Trump accused Democrats of playing “political games,” exclaimed “No cave!” and argued construction of a wall along the Mexican border would lead to substantially lower crime rates and fewer drugs coming into the United States.

“Without a Wall our Country can never have Border or National Security,” Trump wrote.

In response, Pelosi accused Trump and McConnell of “holding Americans hostage” by not acting on the House bills.

The Senate bill, which would fund the government through Sept. 30, incorporates a few elements aimed at winning over Democratic support, including some new humanitarian aid, $12.7 billion in hurricane and wildfire disaster relief, and the three-year temporary protections for about 700,00 “dreamers” and 300,000 immigrants who came to the U.S. following natural disasters or other calamities in their home countries and won “Temporary Protected Status,” a designation Trump is also moving to phase out.


In announcing his new proposal in a White House speech on Saturday, Trump touted it as a “commonsense compromise both parties should embrace.”

“Our plan includes critical measures to protect migrant children from exploitation and abuse,” Trump said, in a mention of the new asylum provisions. “This includes a new system to allow Central American minors to apply for asylum in their home countries, and reform to promote family reunification for unaccompanied children, thousands of whom wind up on our border doorstep.”

But the changes cracking down on asylum seekers and other pieces of the immigration system drew angry and widespread condemnation from immigration activists.

Wendy Young, president of Kids in Need of Defense, a group that works with unaccompanied immigrant youths, said that under the proposed changes, “Kids will lose their lives, plain and simple.”

The legislation would also double fees for young immigrants to apply for protection under DACA and create new income requirements to qualify, which would have the effect of preventing very poor immigrants from being able to apply, according to United We Dream, a group that supports Dreamers.

And it would increase by 20 percent ICE’s budget for detention and enforcement, said Heidi Altman, director of policy at the National Immigrant Justice Center. This money could fund an additional 2,000 new ICE officers and 750 new border agents.


But despite the outcry from immigration activists, the legislation has also faced opposition from some on the right, including conservative commentator Ann Coulter, who’s described it as “amnesty.”

And some immigration restrictionists said they would like to see the legislation go even farther. For example, the proposal would allow the administration to tighten the process that allows asylum seekers to claim they have a “credible fear” of persecution in their home countries, said Chris Chmielenski, spokesman for NumbersUSA, an advocacy firm that favors tighter immigration rules. But NumbersUSA wants those changes to be made permanent in the Senate GOP proposal, as well as changes that would allow the Department of Homeland Security to deport unaccompanied minors not from Canada or Mexico back to their home countries.

“It doesn’t go far enough,” Chmielenski said.

The Washington Post’s Robert Barnes contributed to this report.

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