(CNSNews.com) - President Donald Trump said Friday that he hates seeing illegal immigrant children separated from their parents at the U.S-Mexico border, but “that’s the Democrats’ law.”
In an impromptu interview on the north lawn of the White House with “Fox & Friends,” Trump blamed Democrats, saying they could solve the problem by passing an immigration reform bill.
“If you notice when I came over, they were all saying about separating the families, and that’s a Democrat bill. That’s Democrats wanting to do that, and they could solve it very easily by getting together, but they think it’s a good election point. I think it’s a horrible election point for them,” the president said.
“Ultimately Congress has got to change the laws, but at the same time Mr. President, people say look, you rip these families apart even though it’s the law, it’s heartless,” Fox News host Steve Doocy said.
“But that’s the law, and that’s what the Democrats gave us, and we’re willing to change it today if they want to get in and negotiate, but they just don’t want to negotiate. They’re afraid of security for our country. They’re afraid of a wall, although I must tell you most people now really they want a wall. They want to stop the drugs. They want to stop a lot of people from coming in that shouldn’t be here like MS-13,” Trump said.
Congress is expected to take up legislation on immigration reform next week. Among the two bills are expected to be voted on - one from Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), and another more moderate bill.
When asked whether he would sign either of them, the president said, “I’m looking at both of them. I certainly wouldn’t sign the more moderate one.”
However, White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah told reporters Friday evening, “The President fully supports both the Goodlatte bill and the House leadership bill. In this morning's interview, he was commenting on the discharge petition in the House, and not the new package. He would sign either the Goodlatte or the leadership bills.”
When asked what an immigration bill has to have in it for the president to support it, Trump said, “I need a bill that gives this country tremendous border security. I have to have that. We have to get rid of catch and release.”
“Does that mean the wall?” Doocy asked.
“We have to have the wall. If there’s no wall, there’s no bill,” Trump said. He said the bill must also eliminate “catch and release.”
“We catch a criminal, a real criminal, a rough, tough criminal. We take his name, and then we release him, and we say please show up to court in a couple of months. You know what the chances of getting him to court are? Like zero,” he said.
The president also took questions from reporters on the north lawn.
When asked if he agreed with the policy of children being separated from their parents when they reach the southern U.S. border and are placed in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security, Trump said, “No, I hate it. I hate the children being taken away. The Democrats have to change their law. That's their law.”
“Sir, that's your own policy. That's your own policy. Why do you keep lying about it, sir?” a reporter asked.
“Quiet. Quiet. That's the Democrats' law. We can change it tonight. We can change it right now,” the president said.
“You're the president. You can change it right now,” a reporter said.
“I will leave here -- no, no. You need their votes. You need their votes,” Trump said.
“Mr. President, you control both chambers of Congress. The Republicans do,” the reporter interjected.
“Excuse me. By one vote? We don't need it. You need 60 votes,” Trump said. “Excuse me. We have the one vote -- excuse me. We need a one-vote -- we have a one-vote edge. We need 60. So we need 10 votes. We can't get them from the Democrats,” Trump said.
When asked whether he can change immigration law through executive action, the president said, “You can't do it through an executive order.”
“The children can be taken care of quickly, beautifully, and immediately. The Democrats forced that law upon our nation. I hate it. I hate to see separation of parents and children. The Democrats can come to us as they actually are -- in all fairness, we are talking to them -- and they can change the whole border security,” Trump said.
He said Democrats have control because the Republicans don’t have the votes. “We need more Republicans, frankly, and that's why I think we're going to do so well in the midterms.”
When asked why Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a zero-tolerance policy at the border on May 7th, Trump said, “Because he’s following the law.”
“He's following laws, very simply, that were given to us and forced upon us by the Democrats,” the president said.
“The Democrats gave us the laws. Now, I want the laws to be beautiful, humane, but strong. I don't want bad people coming in. I don't want drugs coming in, and we can solve that problem in one meeting. Tell the Democrats, your friends, to call me,” he added.