Congress heads toward showdown over ‘Dreamers’
Congress is barreling toward a showdown over immigration in January.
Lawmakers were locked in a flurry of closed-door negotiations and meetings with top White House officials as they tried to make progress on an agreement before wrapping up their work for the year.
Instead, both chambers adjourned without a deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, kicking the fight into 2018. The program allows certain immigrants, called dreamers, who came to the United States illegally as children, to work and go to school here.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are expected to meet with top White House officials on Wednesday to discuss a myriad of looming policy fights, including DACA.
The sit-down comes as President Trump, a wild card in the immigration battle, is doubling down on his demand for funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.
“The Democrats have been told, and fully understand, that there can be no DACA without the desperately needed WALL at the Southern Border and an END to the horrible Chain Migration & ridiculous Lottery System of Immigration etc. We must protect our Country at all cost!” he said in a tweet.
The requirement would complicate any effort to get a deal because proposed funding is unlikely to get the 60 votes needed in the Senate.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) noted on Friday that Congress could pass a legislative fix for DACA that “beefs up border security, stops chain migration for the DREAMers, and addresses the unfairness of the diversity lottery.”
“If POTUS wants to protect these kids, we want to help him keep that promise,” he added.
Conservatives have honed in on cracking down on “chain migration” by limiting which family members U.S. citizens and permanent residents can try to sponsor for a green card.
Negotiators are hoping they will have a deal by next month, though wide gaps remain between what GOP lawmakers, the White House and Democrats will accept as part of any agreement.
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