Jared Kushner privately working on reshaping legal immigration


As debate in public rages about illegal immigration and a border wall, Jared Kushner has been holding private meetings in the West Wing on ways to overhaul the legal immigration system, according to six people familiar with the conversations and documents obtained by McClatchy.

President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law is operating on at least two tracks — the first is working with a small group studying specific ways to redistribute employment visas and the second is helping lead a series of “listening sessions” with about three dozen interest groups important to Trump to see if there is a position that Republicans can rally around before the 2020 elections.

“Jared has proven with the work he did on criminal justice reform and the other work he’s done that he’s willing to be bipartisan,” said Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker and an informal adviser to Trump. “He’s willing to listen carefully. And I think he has a very good sense that if you don’t put together an overwhelming majority of Republicans nothing will happen… If it’s possible, they’ll try to move forward.”

What is clear from conversations with participants and both current and former Trump officials is that Kushner has helped kicked off a fresh discussion on immigration that reflects a new paradigm in the White House. It’s a shift away from priorities of 2017 that sought to prevent the influx of foreign workers who could displace American workers in favor of a new approach preferred by more traditional Republicans, particularly those close to the corporate sector who are desperate to attract more foreign workers to fill U.S. factories and tech hubs.

It’s a different White House than it was a year ago, said a senior administration official. And Kushner, who likes to be part of the early stages of an exploratory process, became frustrated with the past debates on immigration that were focused on what stakeholders opposed. He wanted to help start a new discussion centered around what the sides have in common, a senior administration official said.

“What we want to do is kind of figure out what are the things that everyone agrees on,” the official said. “Where are the areas where there is disagreement and then what we can do is take all that to the president and then let him and the vice president, let them make decisions on what our policy will be.”

The White House says Kushner is working with other top officials on the effort, including Vice President Mike Pence, Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Senior Adviser Stephen Miller. They are in Phase Two of a three-part process to see if there is enough consensus behind a policy that can be presented to the president.

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Franco Ordonez