By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - President Donald Trump threatened a shutdown of the U.S. government Tuesday unless Democrats acquiesce to his proposed immigration overhauls.
"If we don't change it, let’s have a shutdown, we’ll do a shutdown, and it's worth it for our country," Trump said during a White House meeting on the international MS-13 street gang. "I’d love to see a shutdown if we don’t get this stuff taken care of. So we have to strengthen our borders, not by a little bit, but by a lot.”
The American president has been seeking an end to the diversity visa lotto program, as well as a halt to what he calls "chain migration", or immigration to the U.S. based upon extended familial relations, as well as funding for his border wall with Mexico. In exchange, he would offer up to 1.8 million immigrants brought to the country illegally as children a decade-plus path to citizenship.
Lawmakers have until Thursday night to negotiate a deal to fund the government after a brief shutdown in January was ended by a short-term spending bill. Any agreement would have to be signed by Trump in order to go into effect. If one does not take hold, the government would shut down again Friday.
"If we have to shut it down because the Democrats don't want safety, and unrelated but still related, they don't want to take care of our military, then shut it down. We'll go with another shutdown," Trump said.
While Trump continues his war of words over his immigration proposals, lawmakers on Capitol Hill appear to be gaining traction in their efforts to broker a compromise.
Senator Chuck Schumer said negotiators are "making significant progress" on a spending deal.
"We are closer to an agreement than we have ever been," Schumer said. "The best opportunity to work together is the budget," he added, referring to his Republican counterpart, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
McConnell made similarly positive statements about the progress.