Lankford “very positive” about prospects of Senate immigration deal despite Trump’s oppositionthedigitalchaps


Washington — Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, the lead Republican negotiator in border security talks with Democrats and the White House, said Sunday he feels “very positive” about the emerging deal, despite swirling doubt and pushback from some members of his party, including former President Donald Trump.

“I do feel very positive about it because even the initial feedback has been good,” Lankford told “Face the Nation,” though he noted that he doesn’t yet have a firm count of who intends to support the bill.

Months into the negotiations, Lankford, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy and independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema are working on the “final aspects” of a compromise with the White House on border security, the Oklahoma Republican said. The widely anticipated agreement is designed to reduce illegal crossings that have risen to unprecedented levels along the southern border in recent years.

The “key step” will be finalizing and releasing the legislative text of the agreement so senators can view the language for themselves, Lankford said, noting that opponents have been working off of “internet rumors” so far. 

The deal is expected to grant the executive branch the authority to pause asylum processing during spikes in migrant crossings, three people familiar with the talks told CBS News. It’s also expected to raise the standard to accept asylum seekers and expand expedited deportation authorities.

But the agreement has already faced headwinds in the Republican-controlled House, where some have pushed for stricter border security policies. GOP lawmakers in the lower chamber have pushed for H.R. 2, a House-passed bill that’s a nonstarter in the Democratic-controlled Senate, to be the baseline of any immigration agreement.

Adding to the Senate deal’s difficult prospects is opposition from Trump, who holds sway with many GOP lawmakers and came out against the agreement in recent days. Trump, the clear front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, said Saturday that there’s “zero chance” he would support the bill.

Even so, Lankford said he’s looking forward to Trump seeing the final version, despite his rejection of the agreement so far. Lankford noted that the agreement would give the president new authorities, which Trump could wield should he return to the White House next year. 

“So if he were to be president, this would be new authorities that he had actually asked for when he was president before,” Lankford said. 

The Oklahoma Republican also gave Trump credit for his handling of the border, saying that “none of the things that are happening the last three years on the border would have happened if Donald Trump was actually president.”