Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) believed they secured a meeting with President Trump on Thursday to go over their bipartisan immigration plan with the four other senators negotiating the deal, two Democrats and two Republicans. But when they arrived, immigration hardliners like Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) were in the Oval Office, because White House adviser Stephen Miller "was concerned there could be a deal proposed that was too liberal and made sure conservative lawmakers were present," The Washington Post reports.
"Trump had seemed amenable to a deal earlier in the day during phone calls with lawmakers," the Post says, citing aides, but he "shifted his position in the meeting and did not seem interested in the bipartisan compromise." Most infamously, Trump rejected the idea of protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and several African countries, calling them "shithole countries" and specifically nixing Haiti. "Why do we need more Haitians?" Trump reportedly said. "Take them out." The meeting got "salty" on all sides, a White House official told the Post. "It did not go well."
One of the main pillars of the bipartisan plan, and its impetus, was a replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The plan offers a 12-year path to citizenship for DREAMers, young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally when they were children. Protecting DREAMers is really popular — 86 percent of U.S. voters, including 76 percent of Republicans, want the DREAMers to stay in the U.S., according to a new Quinnipiac poll.
Other parts of the bipartisan plan are more contentions, with liberals opposed to the $1.6 billion for planning and building Trump's border wall and conservatives opposed to any path to citizenship. It "has been viewed as the legislation that has the best chance of success on Capitol Hill," Politico reports, though another bipartisan group of four top lawmakers is focusing more narrowly on the DREAMers issue. Peter Weber
President Trump meets Tuesday with Republicans and Democrats to discuss the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which increasingly appears to be the make-or-break piece of this month's must-pass spending deal, CNN reports.
Republicans say Democrats won't budge on a budget unless the 800,000 "DREAMers" brought to the United States illegally as children are protected from deportation. "Why won't Democratic leadership negotiate with us?" Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Monday, as reported by Politico. "Because we refuse to simply pass the DREAM Act, as is, with no proportional border security and interior enforcement measures."
Democrats, on the other hand, accuse Republicans of using DREAMers as a bargaining chip to advance their agenda to build a border wall and curb immigration. Insiders are pessimistic about the possibilities of reaching a long-term budget deal, and a government shutdown looms just 10 days away. "It's a mess," said one person involved in the negotiations. Jeva Lange
Paul Ryan is reportedly planning to squeeze a DACA deal into the December spending bill, infuriating some Trump allies
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has privately told colleagues that he is planning to loop a solution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program into the December spending bill, HuffPost reports. The Trump administration announced in September that it was ending DACA, which protects individuals who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, but he first allowed a six-month reprieve so Congress could attempt to solve the issue with legislation.
Ryan "did make reference that [DACA provisions] would be something that might be part of the whole ball of wax," Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Mark Walker (R-N.C.) told HuffPost. The decision could mean a huge legislative win for Democrats, especially since Republicans do not have the votes to pass the December omnibus bill all on their own. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has additionally said that she would consider voting against a spending deal in order to negotiate a DACA decision.
Several of Trump's biggest supporters have expressed public displeasure with the idea that the president is willing to protect immigrants after all. On Wednesday, the Stephen Bannon-led Breitbart News criticized Ryan for his potential willingness to work with Democrats on immigration. Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) warned simply that Ryan "better not."
Still, "there is some risk in taking Ryan's comments too seriously," HuffPost cautions. "What he means by DACA could differ greatly from what Democrats want or believe is an acceptable solution." Read why Damon Linker doesn't believe Congress will save DACA here at The Week. Jeva Lange
Shortly after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) dined with President Trump on Wednesday night, the Democratic leaders released a statement saying the group had "agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly." Pelosi and Schumer said the deal would exchange amnesty for border security measures "excluding the wall."
Trump had announced earlier this month he was ending the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, which grants work authorization to immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, after first allowing a six-month reprieve so Congress could attempt to solve the issue with legislation. Several of his biggest supporters were publicly displeased with the idea that Trump had reportedly agreed to protect these illegal immigrants after all — especially if it came at the expense of the ever-touted border wall.
Among them were prominent Iowa Republicans Rep. Steve King and Sen. Chuck Grassley. King in particular has been an ardent defender of Trump's, but on Wednesday lamented that "no promise" the president makes "is credible":
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) September 14, 2017
Grassley, on the other hand, accused the president of having "undercut" the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Grassley chairs:
@realDonaldTrump Morn news says u made deal w Schumer on DACA/hv ur staff brief me/ I know u undercut JudiCimm effort 4 biparty agreement
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) September 14, 2017
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that Trump had "certainly not agreed" to ditch the border wall, and Trump himself tweeted Thursday that the wall — now taking the form of "new renovation of old and existing fences" — would "continue to be built."
Meanwhile, other Republicans were not so moved by the Trump-supporting lawmakers' hurt feelings. Kimberly Alters
— Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) September 14, 2017