U.S. President Donald Trump advanced his tough immigration stance Tuesday, saying it was "so disgraceful" that a professional football player was killed in a car crash by a Guatemalan man police say was in the United States illegally, after twice being deported.
Trump used the death early Sunday of Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson alongside an Indiana highway to attack Democratic lawmakers who are in contentious negotiations with the White House over changes to U.S. immigration policies and how best to protect nearly two million young immigrants from being deported.
"This is just one of many such preventable tragedies," Trump said on Twitter about the accident that also killed the Uber driver of the car Jackson was riding in. "We must get the Dems to get tough on the Border, and with illegal immigration, FAST!"
"My prayers and best wishes are with the family of Edwin Jackson, a wonderful young man whose life was so senselessly taken," Trump said.
Later, he tweeted about the importance of "a 21st century MERIT-BASED immigration system."
Trump has called for adoption of his four-point immigration plan: protection against deportation for 1.8 million young immigrants who years ago were brought illegally into the U.S. by their parents, construction of a wall along the southern U.S. border with Mexico to thwart more illegal migrants, and the end to both a family migration program and a visa lottery that over the years have allowed hundreds of thousands of immigrants into the United States.
Lawmakers have floated several immigration proposals in recent days, but have been stymied in reaching agreement on the complex issue, just as Congress has been for years.
Several of the proposals would protect the young immigrants from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program championed by former President Barack Obama, a plan Trump ended last September while giving Congress until March 5 to weigh in on the issue before deportations could be carried out. But the proposals have mostly fallen short of the remainder of Trump's proposed immigration changes.
"Polling shows nearly 7 in 10 Americans support an immigration reform package that includes DACA, fully secures the border, ends chain migration & cancels the visa lottery. If D's oppose this deal, they aren't serious about DACA-they just want open borders," Trump said.
Trump stands firm
Trump dismissed one proposal this week from two senators, Republican John McCain of Arizona and Democrat Chris Coons of Delaware, before they even had a chance to introduce legislation. It included permanent legal status for the young immigrants, called Dreamers by their advocates, but only further study of border security issues, not the $25 billion to $30 billion that Trump and conservative Republicans want for border security construction projects.
"Any deal on DACA that does not include STRONG border security and the desperately needed WALL is a total waste of time," Trump tweeted. "March 5th is rapidly approaching and the Dems seem not to care about DACA. Make a deal!"
White House chief of staff John Kelly said Tuesday he "very much" doubts Trump will extend the March 5 date when work permits for the young immigrants will begin to expire, leaving increasing numbers of them subject to deportation to their native homelands. Most of the immigrants have worked or studied in the United States and only know it as their home country.
Later Tuesday, Trump plans to sign an order creating the National Vetting Center to check for security concerns about immigrants and visitors entering the United States.
Driver's blood alcohol content
In the car crash in the Midwestern state of Indiana, authorities say the Guatemalan man, identified as 37-year-old Manuel Orrego-Savala, had a blood alcohol content three times the legal limit when he crashed his vehicle into Jackson and his driver after they had stopped alongside a highway when Jackson became ill.
Officials said Orrego-Savala had twice been deported, in 2007 and 2009, to his homeland, but had returned illegally to the U.S.