Lawmakers are facing a March 5 deadline to pass legislation to help the illegal immigrants known as “Dreamers” after Trump announced in September he would terminate the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The deadline affects more than a quarter of a million illegal immigrants who stand to lose their work permits unless Congress protects them.
At the same time, Democrats are pushing to complete a deal on DACA by Jan. 19, which is when lawmakers face another deadline to secure a funding bill to keep the government open. Some Republicans, however, have resisted tying the two issues together, according to a report in The Washington Post on Thursday.
“If we have support from Democrats on DACA that would be terrific,” Trump said prior to meeting with a group of pro-amnesty Republican Senators in the White House who want the “Dreamers” to stay. But the president emphasized that “any legislation on DACA must secure our border with a wall. It must give our immigration officers the resources they need to stop illegal immigration.”
He also reiterated previous calls to end a diversity visa lottery that provides 50,000 green cards a year to immigrants from countries with low immigration rates to the United States. “The lottery system has to be laughed at by people outside our country,” Trump said.
After meeting with Trump at the White House, Republican Senators James Lankford (Okla.) and Thom Tillis (N.C.), said in a joint statement that the lawmakers and Trump are “on the same page when it comes to securing our borders once and for all and providing long-term certainty for DACA youth.”
The senators went on to say that “our discussions on border security and enforcement with Democrats are much further apart, and that is key to getting a bipartisan deal on DACA. Until that happens, we cannot accomplish the solutions our country needs and many families deserve.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump would play host to a bipartisan group of Congress members next week to continue the immigration negotiations.
Immigrant rights groups are pushing for a “clean” DACA bill that is not attached to the spending bill and does not contain other border security provisions. Congressional Democrats have signaled they are open to some security measures, but they continue to refuse to support Trump’s border wall, saying such a barrier is costly and unnecessary at a time when illegal crossings at the Mexican border are at records lows. Some moderate Republicans have also expressed reluctance towards funding Trump’s wall.
Among the GOP senators meeting with Trump was Lindsey Graham (S.C.). Graham has been a vocal supporter of immigration reform efforts that offer a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. During his remarks, Trump said that Graham “used to be a great enemy of mine; now he’s a great friend.”
“We’re working with Democrats,” Trump added. “We’re moving across the aisle. I think we have a lot of support. But we’ll soon see. I’d like to take care of DACA, but only under these conditions.”
Trump has used his Twitter account to repeatedly declare that he wants to end chain migration, the visa lottery and to reform tangled immigration laws that hinder repatriations of illegals. If implemented, the plan would have the effect of slashing the annual delivery of wage-cutting cheap-workers and welfare-aided consumers to American business groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
According to the McClatchy news service, Tillis is an outsourcing-advocate who is pushing a similar amnesty bill, dubbed the SUCCEED Act. Lankford, who is helping Tillis, argues that illegal immigration promotes competition in the labor market.
According to a report from Breitbart News on Thursday, the federal government inflates the supply of new labor by annually accepting 1 million new legal immigrants, by providing work-permits to roughly 3 million resident foreigners, and by doing little to block the employment of roughly 8 million illegal immigrants.