White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders described the benefits of the merit-based immigration system demanded by President Donald Trump in response to suggestions by a reporter that the president is motivated by racial prejudice with regard to a “good deal” immigration reform. While much of the Washington media remains fixated on remarks attributed to president Trump by Democrats and progressives, in which he supposedly referred to El Salvador, Haiti, and African nations as “sh--hole countries,” a reporter at the Tuesday White House news conference asked Sanders, "Does a 'good deal' include preferring white immigrants from Norway than black and brown immigrants from Haiti?"
Sanders replied, "No. In fact, it's the opposite because by definition a merit-based system is color-blind, it's not basing it on any of that criteria. It's not based on race. It's not based on religion. It's not based on country of origin. It is actually based on the merit of whether or not this person is going to contribute to society.
“So, actually it erases all of those things and makes it a much more fair system instead of picking and choosing, and trying to meet different quotas and different things. It's a merit-based system and, frankly, it's a system that most Democrats supported and voted for just years ago but now that this president is championing it, they are just showing absolute signs and definitions of what hypocrisy looks like.”
Sanders said that the White House, Republicans, and Democrats are all seeking agreement on the illegal immigrants who benefit from the Obama-era Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals amnesty. “They've also said that they support merit-based immigration...Democrats need to quit playing politics and start doing what they were elected to do and that is governing. They need to come to the table with a real deal based on the parameters that were discussed in the meeting that most of you saw. And let's get something done for the American people."
The reporter persisted in suggesting that Trump is allegedly motivated by race in his appeal for immigration reform. "That's about race, is it not?" the reporter asked. Sanders pushed back, saying: "No, it's not. Again, the president has laid out what he wants to see in an immigration process and that is a merit-based system. You cannot argue with the priority he has laid out, and what they looks like, and how it actually levels the playing field, and is the opposite of what you're suggesting."
Earlier on Tuesday, Sanders told Fox News that President Trump is concerned that Democrats are opposed to making a deal on immigration and thus risk a coming partial government shutdown because they want to block his immigration initiatives. She said that Trump is “worried that Democrats’ unwillingness to actually put the country ahead of their party is what’s stalling things from moving forward, whether it’s the budget or whether it’s a deal on” immigration issues.
On Friday, Congress faces a deadline for approving a stopgap spending bill in order to keep the federal government operating. So far, negotiations have hinged on whether Congress can come up with a solution for the Obama-era amnesty program known as DACA — or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — for young illegal immigrants who entered the United States as minors.
Democrats have dug in their heels regarding their stance on DACA, ever since last week’s meeting at the White House when Trump supposedly objected to immigration from El Salvador, Haiti, and African nations as “s–hole countries.” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who was the sole Democrat at the meeting with Trump, has denounced Trump supposed remarks as racist and has since called on the president to prove he is not a racist by approving a bipartisan immigration bill.
Sanders said on Tuesday, “I don’t think they’re using it as leverage, they’re using it as an excuse not to help this president get something accomplished, which I think is a sad day for our country.” She said, “They’re willing to throw away the progress in negotiations and not make big steps that we need to have, whether it’s funding the military supporting our government or making a deal on DACA.”
Sanders said of Democrats, “They’re penalizing the country.” She said that the president wants to come to a deal, but he won’t sign a “bad deal.” Sanders said, “He is very much committed to making a deal when it comes to doing something permanent with DACA, doing something for border security, end chain migration, end the visa lottery system and really make sure that we’re taking steps so that we don’t have to do this all again in two years, and we’re actually correcting the problem.”
Sanders referred to Democrats’ claim that Trump is racist “an outrageous and ludicrous excuse.”
“It seems absolutely hypocritical that now, all of a sudden, they don’t want border security, they don’t want merit-based immigration system when they supported it, voted for it, spoken about it many times in the past,” she told reporters. “Everybody wants the same thing here. It seems like it should be pretty simple. Hopefully, the Democrats will stop playing politics and start governing and getting their job done.”