The Battle Now Is Over Legal Immigration

NBC News: “After years of high-profile debates over a border wall and a path to citizenship, the biggest obstacle to a bipartisan deal on DACA is quickly becoming legal immigration, an issue where President Donald Trump has presided over a monumental shift in the GOP’s approach. Both sides have given ground elsewhere. A new proposal by the White House on Thursday would cede significant ground on ‘Dreamers,’ with a path to citizenship for up to 1.8 million people brought to the United States illegally as children. It also asks for $25 billion for a wall, which Democrats (at least briefly) had already suggested they would fund to a substantial degree.”
“On legal immigration, though, the proposal puts them miles apart. It reflects a fundamental and growing ideological divide between Democrats and many Republicans who view immigration as a net good and Trump and his allies, who have depicted immigrants as an unwanted burden and threatening presence. The White House is currently demanding that a deal on DACA recipients eliminate the diversity visa lottery — which issues 50,000 green cards a year in countries with few immigrants to the United States — along with family immigration categories for siblings and parents.”

Trump Will Support Citizenship Path for 1.8 Million

“President Trump’s immigration proposal to Congress will include a path to citizenship for an estimated 1.8 million young undocumented immigrants… more than twice the number of ‘dreamers’ who were enrolled in a deferred action program Trump terminated last fall,” the Washington Post reports.

“The figure represents a significant concession to Democrats but is likely to produce sharp blowback among conservative Republicans.”

“Trump’s plan… also includes a $25 billion ‘trust fund’ for a border wall and additional security upgrades on both the southwest and northern U.S. borders. And the president will propose significant curbs to legal immigration channels, restricting the ability of U.S. citizens to petition for visas only for spouses and minor children and ending categories for parents and siblings. Both of those provisions are likely to engender fierce objections among liberal Democrats.”

The New York Times reports White House officials called the plan “extremely generous” but also a “take-it-or-leave-it proposal” by the president.

Cruz Blasts Citizenship Path Suggested by Trump

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) “blasted the idea of giving young undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, a day after President Trump said he was open to the idea as part of immigration legislation being negotiated in Congress,” Bloomberg reports.

Said Cruz: “I do not believe we should be granting a path to citizenship to anybody here illegally. Doing so is inconsistent with the promises we made to the men and women who elected us.”

Can the GOP Make the Midterms About Immigration?

Matt Bai: “Senate Democrats are right to worry that another shutdown might get in the way of that goal. Up to now, absent this shutdown business, Democrats have been looking at a midterm election cycle so promising that even Vladimir Putin couldn’t find a way to rig it.”

“But the longer this standoff looms, the more likely it is that the midterms will become all about immigration. And here the math isn’t nearly so favorable for Democrats, who champion immigration generally but rarely talk about the legitimate anxieties arising from porous borders.”

Rubio Ditches Bipartisan ‘Gang’ on Immigration

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), “a key co-author of the 2013 Gang of Eight comprehensive immigration bill, has no plans to join a swelling bipartisan group of senators trying to strike a deal to protect Dreamers,” Politico reports.

“In fact, other senators say Rubio prefers a more conservative approach than the bipartisan group. And his reluctance to join the new gang underscores the steep challenge — and sense of pessimism — for reaching an agreement on a tight schedule that can win support from the House, Senate and President Trump.”

Trump Said He Would Support Path to Citizenship

President Trump said for the first time “that he is open to a path to citizenship for some younger undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers” in an immigration deal being negotiated by Congress, a potential breakthrough in the stalled talks,” the Washington Post reports.

“In an impromptu discussion with reporters, Trump emphasized that his support of a citizenship path for about 690,000 immigrants would be contingent on securing $25 billion for a wall on the southwest border with Mexico and $5 billion for additional border upgrades. The president also is expected to continue his push to curb legal immigration as part of a deal.”

New York Times: “Mr. Trump once again seemed to undercut his administration’s message, telling reporters at the White House that he would allow the young illegal immigrants to ‘morph into’ citizens over a period of time.”

‘Hastert Rule’ Is Real Obstacle to Dreamers

Walter Shapiro: “When it comes to protecting the Dreamers, Schumer was in a situation akin to a drunk who lost his watch in a dark alley but was searching for it on the main street because ‘the light is better here.’ The Democrats had leverage in the Senate because of the filibuster, but the House has always been the problem on immigration.”

“Actually, the House would not be such an obstacle if a compromise immigration bill could ever get to the floor for a vote. But the Republicans are slavish devotees to the Hastert Rule — a disgraceful tradition named after a disgraced former House speaker, Denny Hastert.”

“As long as Ryan will not bring any legislation to the floor that does not have majority support in the GOP caucus, the Dreamers could be held hostage by outrageous demands of House Republicans.”

Trump Gives Schumer Ultimatum

President Trump issued an ultimatum, telling Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) he risks failing to secure a legislative fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program if he reneges on his offer to fund Trump’s proposed border wall, the Washington Examiner reports.

Said Trump: “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer fully understands, especially after his humiliating defeat, that if there is no Wall, there is no DACA.”

Immigration Talks Quickly Hit a Wall

“Senators crashing on a two-week deadline to come up with an immigration plan are already sparring over funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall, what qualifies as border security — even what the scope of the negotiations are,” Politico reports.

“It was an inauspicious start Tuesday to the bipartisan effort to break the months-long impasse over Dreamers and the budget that crescendoed with last weekend’s government shutdown. That crisis ended quickly, but Congress could be back in almost the same spot in two weeks absent a deal that can get 60 votes. The path to 60, though, looks rocky indeed.”

“An initial gang of six senators has casually doubled, but some members aren’t deeply versed in immigration policy. The group’s leaders say their plan is by far the most developed proposal that can attract Democrats and Republicans, but conservatives with Trump’s ear say the administration has no interest negotiating off their bill.”

Schumer Withdraws Offer for Funding Border Wall

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) “is taking his big spending boost for Donald Trump’s border wall off the table,” Politico reports.

“The Senate minority leader, through an aide, informed the White House on Monday that he was retracting the offer he made last week to give Trump well north of the $1.6 billion in wall funding Trump had asked for this year, according to two Democrats. And now they say Trump will simply not get a better deal than that on his signature campaign promise.”