Debate over size of DACA deal takes over immigration fight

How many pillars does it take to make an immigration deal stand? Right now, Washington can't agree.As lawmaker...

Posted: Feb 2, 2018 1:27 PM
Updated: Feb 2, 2018 1:27 PM

How many pillars does it take to make an immigration deal stand? Right now, Washington can't agree.

As lawmakers rush to come up with a solution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, there's disagreement just on the scope of the deal -- even weeks after President Donald Trump gathered lawmakers to discuss his "four pillars."

Trump reiterated his desire Thursday for Congress to pass his framework

Bipartisan lawmakers have advocated for a narrower deal

Trump reiterated his desire Thursday for Congress to pass what he has proposed: a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients and more eligible young undocumented immigrants; border security including some enhanced immigration enforcement authorities; heavily cutting family-based migration; and ending the diversity visa lottery.

"I know that the Senate is planning to bring an immigration bill to the floor in the coming weeks, and I am asking that the framework we submitted ... that something really positive will come out of it," Trump told the Republican congressional retreat Thursday, reiterating his "four pillars" plan.

But his proposal has been dismissed as dead on arrival by Democrats, whose votes will be necessary to pass it, and some Republicans and Democrats alike are pushing for a "two pillar" deal, instead.

"My own view is, and I'm only speaking for myself here, I think that if we can solve DACA and border security, that may be the best we can hope for," Senate No. 3 Republican John Thune of South Dakota said Wednesday, breaking with others in his party.

The argument for narrowing the deal is focused on what can actually pass. Senators working to craft a bipartisan compromise are aiming for something that can get even more votes than the 60 required to advance legislation, which in the 51-49 GOP-controlled Senate will require a good number of Democrats.

In the House, moderate and conservative Republicans have been far apart on immigration, and many hardliners on the right have rejected the White House proposal as too liberal, meaning a compromise in that chamber will also likely require Democratic votes.

But Democrats have found a number of poison pills in Trump's pillars, including the cuts to family-based migration and ending the diversity lottery without another way to ensure immigrants are admitted from countries otherwise underrepresented in migration to the US. Not only do they oppose the massive cuts to legal immigration and hardship for families such a plan would entail, they say, some suspect the President has ulterior motives, especially after his "shithole countries" comments.

"If Republicans believe that we're ready to destroy family-based visa system, which we believe is the bedrock of our democracy, (they're wrong)," Illinois' Rep. Luis Gutierrez said this week. "We put this in the context of racist remarks from the President. There's nobody in line from Norway, Mr. President. There's lot of people from countries you don't like, and we think that is what is behind this."

'Gang of Six' was tough sell among Democrats

A previously unreported standoff with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus reveals the tensions even among Democrats on the issue -- where the so-called "Gang of Six" bill that Republicans rejected as too far to the left was too far to the right at first for Hispanic Democrats.

According to two sources familiar, the day after the President rejected the Gang of Six compromise and made his "shithole countries" comments, Gang of Six member Sen. Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, held an emergency phone briefing for CHC members. One source described participants of the call as "furious." Another source characterized the tone as "concerned."

The Gang of Six offer included nearly $3 billion for Trump's wall and border technology, ended the diversity lottery but used those visas with a higher bar for underrepresented countries and recipients of temporary protected status, and addressed "chain migration," or family migration, by blocking parents of DACA recipients who came here illegally from ever being citizens. But the bill did offer those parents indefinitely renewable legal status to work in the US.

After the contentious call, Menendez and the group worked over the weekend to get CHC members more on board with the compromise and he personally met with House CHC members to answer their questions, which brought them around enough to the Gang of Six bill. After that was rejected, they are less likely to accept further concessions.

CHC members have pushed for a bill from caucus Whip Pete Aguilar, a California Democrat, and Republican Rep. Will Hurd of Texas that is just border security and a DACA fix.

2-pillar deal splits Republicans

Members of a bipartisan group of roughly 20 senators who have been meeting since the shutdown have also been arguing for a two-pillar solution, as Thune articulated.

"We all need to understand that there are two things that are critical: dealing with (DACA recipients), because we're up against the March deadline, and dealing with border security," said North Dakota's Democrat Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, leaving one meeting of the group.

"If we can't get a deal that includes (the four pillars) we may have to pare it down to two pillars and just do border and DACA as plan B," Florida's GOP Sen. Marco Rubio said this week.

But other Republicans, including Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, have repeatedly rejected calls to narrow the deal.

"Everybody wants to alter reality in a way that suits their needs, but the reality is the President said there has to be four pillars, and I think people just need to accept that and deal with it," Cornyn told reporters recently.

Republicans including Oklahoma's Sen. James Lankford, South Carolina's Sen. Lindsey Graham and South Dakota's Sen. Mike Rounds have all noted that the family-based migration issue must be part of a deal because once recipients are citizens, they will have the same ability as any American to sponsor family members.

"Those four pillars are really interconnected -- especially the chain migration issue," Lankford said.

"The day you give a pathway to citizenship, you've got a chain migration problem ... so you've got to deal with that and I've got some ideas to do it," said Graham, who helped author the Gang of Six bill. "The issue is chain migration ... but if we can solve that, I think we can get this done."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 46387

Reported Deaths: 2662
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11434680
Lake4985241
Elkhart313343
Allen2695117
St. Joseph185766
Cass16369
Hamilton1502100
Hendricks1371100
Johnson1244118
Porter69037
Tippecanoe6598
Madison64363
Clark62744
Bartholomew58044
Howard55057
LaPorte54125
Kosciusko5003
LaGrange4646
Jackson4583
Vanderburgh4576
Noble45128
Delaware42949
Boone42743
Hancock42535
Marshall4183
Shelby41825
Floyd37044
Morgan32331
Montgomery29020
Grant28726
Clinton2812
Monroe26328
Dubois2616
White25910
Decatur24732
Henry23615
Lawrence23624
Vigo2278
Harrison20822
Warrick20729
Dearborn20622
Greene18432
Miami1802
Jennings16911
Putnam1658
DeKalb1594
Scott1557
Daviess13916
Orange13323
Wayne1296
Franklin1248
Steuben1242
Perry1239
Ripley1148
Jasper1132
Carroll1092
Wabash1092
Fayette967
Newton9610
Whitley814
Randolph774
Starke773
Huntington702
Wells681
Jay670
Fulton661
Jefferson661
Washington651
Knox630
Pulaski621
Clay594
Rush563
Benton480
Adams471
Gibson462
Owen451
Sullivan441
Brown381
Blackford372
Posey360
Spencer331
Tipton301
Crawford290
Fountain292
Switzerland260
Martin220
Parke220
Ohio140
Warren141
Union130
Vermillion130
Pike80
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 52865

Reported Deaths: 2876
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin9338407
Cuyahoga7013366
Hamilton5224198
Marion273138
Lucas2628302
Pickaway217641
Summit1969206
Montgomery178426
Mahoning1752228
Butler144844
Columbiana120960
Stark1052112
Lorain96267
Trumbull86362
Warren75721
Clark7399
Belmont53421
Delaware51815
Tuscarawas51510
Fairfield50316
Medina49132
Lake44316
Miami44231
Ashtabula42144
Portage41858
Licking41611
Geauga39042
Wood38451
Clermont3566
Wayne35452
Richland3185
Allen29740
Mercer2728
Darke23625
Erie22922
Greene2229
Holmes2043
Madison1888
Huron1772
Crawford1357
Ottawa13023
Washington12720
Sandusky12213
Morrow1151
Putnam11516
Hardin11312
Ross1092
Auglaize993
Monroe8617
Coshocton811
Jefferson802
Union801
Hancock761
Hocking767
Muskingum731
Preble661
Lawrence650
Williams652
Clinton620
Guernsey603
Shelby594
Logan581
Wyandot584
Fulton570
Ashland551
Brown531
Carroll513
Defiance483
Fayette460
Highland431
Knox391
Champaign381
Athens371
Scioto360
Seneca332
Perry301
Henry290
Van Wert270
Paulding230
Vinton222
Adams211
Pike200
Jackson170
Gallia141
Harrison121
Meigs110
Noble110
Morgan90
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Few Clouds
91° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 92°
Angola
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 90°
Huntington
Broken Clouds
92° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 93°
Decatur
Scattered Clouds
91° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 91°
Van Wert
Scattered Clouds
91° wxIcon
Hi: 96° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 91°
Hot & Humid Weekend
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events