Thursday August 22nd, 2019 9:31AM

Lawmakers see boost for immigration deal after Trump remarks

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Backed by the White House, Democratic and Republican lawmakers dug into a politically fraught search for compromise on immigration Wednesday, seeking to take advantage of a window of opportunity opened by President Donald Trump. They're under pressure to find a breakthrough before a deadline next week that could lead to a government shutdown neither side wants.

Democrats want urgent action to stave off deportation of some 800,000 immigrants currently protected by an Obama-era program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. Trump still wants his border wall, though he's toned down what that means. Conservatives are watching with a wary eye, fearing he will strike a soft compromise that could infuriate their — and his — political base heading into this year's elections.

The No. 2 lawmakers of each of Capitol Hill's quadrants of power — Republicans and Democrats in both House and Senate — touched gloves Wednesday afternoon, deputized for action at what appears to be a moment of genuine opportunity to break Washington gridlock.

"Everybody wants to find a deal there, myself included," said Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, chairman of the stoutly conservative House Freedom Caucus. "It better be good, because that particular issue is really one of the issues that got this president elected. He can't afford to make a mistake."

The Democrats talk most about DACA, the program protecting immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and are now here illegally. Many have only known America as their home and are viewed sympathetically in opinion polls and among most lawmakers.

Meanwhile, Republicans are heartened by an agreement to discuss other issues, such as border security and Trump's long-promised wall, as well as limiting a preferential "chain migration" system that gives advantages to the relatives of legal immigrants.

Trump no longer talks about the "big, beautiful wall" spanning the length of the U.S.-Mexico border, as he did in the election campaign, but he is demanding some elements of it as part of any agreement.

"We need the wall for security, we need the wall for safety, we need the wall for stopping the drugs from pouring in," Trump said Wednesday. "Any solution has to include the wall because without the wall, it all doesn't work."

Outside of Washington, conservative columnist and author Ann Coulter warned Trump after a White House meeting on Tuesday in which he struck a conciliatory chord on immigration.

"As he considers the utility of walls (and promises), @realDonaldTrump should consider that 'Never Trump' was toothless, but 'Former Trump' will bite," Coulter wrote on Twitter.

But inside the Capitol among the GOP rank and file, most seem to be either supportive of the negotiations or taking a wait and see approach. Everyone has long known that bipartisan talks on both immigration and increasing the crunching spending limits on both the Pentagon and domestic agencies were inevitable. It's no secret that the results of the bipartisan, leadership-driven negotiations are likely to produce results that anger the hard right, but less strident Republicans seem to be comfortable, at least so far.

"I think most like where it's going," said freshman Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska. who represents a competitive district anchored by Omaha and is sympathetic to DACA immigrants. "There's some exceptions but there's a general consensus that that is what we need to be doing. And I think that this is an area that's tailor-made for a bipartisan solution. We both want some things here."

Immigration is just one side of the equation. Also at stake is a deal on spending that would uncork tens of billions of dollars in higher Pentagon spending this year alone, along with money sought by Democrats for domestic programs. Democratic votes are needed to advance such legislation, but top Democrats including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York won't agree to a budget deal unless DACA is dealt with first.

Republicans had long fought perceptions that the two issues were tied together, but they're dropping that pretense now.

"When it comes to how conservatives react to the notion that these things are being linked in discussions, it's sort of nothing new," said Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida. "I think a lot of folks want to see the final product, but I haven't heard some wide-scale revolt to the fact that people are having discussions."

Conservatives in the think tank world said they were heartened that the negotiations had broadened to so-called chain migration and an immigration lottery that's aimed at promoting diversity.

"I think that for some people, yesterday was a bit of a shock to see just how eager (Trump) is to pass amnesty," said Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA, which advocates for reduced immigration rates. "We were worried that the wall was going to be the big get. ... I think we're thrilled to be in as good a shape as we're in."

Still, frustration is brewing that Republicans aren't doing better after winning control of the White House and Congress in 2016,

"Somehow Chuck Schumer still gets to dictate, 'Oh, I get $60 billion more in non-defense spending, and I get to determine ... DACA,'" said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. "How does that make any sense?"

Though both sides' leaders seem eager to settle the issue, uncertainty remains over exactly how — and by whom. Underscoring that, there were two groups of lawmakers seeking an immigration compromise: a handful of senators from both parties who've been meeting on immigration for months as well as the No. 2 Republican and Democratic leaders who just started their gatherings.

"They want to be engaged in the conversation in hopes that it will build a bipartisan consensus," Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin, a member of both groups, said of the second-ranking leaders. Asked if this group would be helpful, he said, "Too early to tell."

Meanwhile, a group of House Republicans, led by Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte of Virginia, unveiled their own immigration bill Wednesday, a measure that embraces conservative goals but would seem to have little chance of ultimate passage. It would reduce legal immigration levels by 25 percent, block federal grants to "sanctuary cities" that don't cooperate with federal authorities on immigration issues and restrict the number of relatives that immigrants already in the U.S. can bring here.


AP reporter Jill Colvin contributed.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Local/State News, Politics, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News
© Copyright 2019
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Trump open to US-NKorea talks 'under right circumstances'
President Donald Trump says he's open to talks with Kim Jong Un's government under the right conditions
6:10PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Lawmakers see boost for immigration deal after Trump remarks
Congress' immigration negotiators dig in, hoping to take advantage of a window of opportunity opened by President Donald Trump
6:08PM ( 12 minutes ago )
New Toyota-Mazda plant will bring 4,000 jobs to Alabama
Toyota and Mazda have chosen Southern U.S. state of Alabama as site of new $1.6 billion joint-venture plant that will eventually employ about 4,000 people
6:08PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Cold snap exposes cracks in upkeep of timeworn schools
The recent snap of unusually cold weather proved too much for schools in Baltimore and other cities where boilers burst or heating systems failed
5:39PM ( 41 minutes ago )
Russian gains in Syria threatened by series of rebel attacks
Weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a victory in Syria, the Russian military outposts in the country have come under attacks that threatened Moscow's gains
5:36PM ( 43 minutes ago )
Italy: Modigliani art exhibit found to be full of fakes
Consumer advocates in Italy are demanding refunds after an expert ruled that almost all the paintings featured in a Genoa art exhibition devoted to Amedeo Modigliani were fakes
5:36PM ( 43 minutes ago )
AP National News
Trump says it 'seems unlikely' he'll give Mueller interview
President Donald Trump said Wednesday that it "seems unlikely" that he'd give an interview in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.
4:28PM ( 1 hour ago )
Supreme Court appears sympathetic to Ohio voter purge effort
The Supreme Court appears sympathetic to states that seek to prune their voting rolls by targeting people who haven't voted in a while
4:02PM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Trump says interview with Mueller 'unlikely'
President Donald Trump says it "seems unlikely" that he'll give an interview in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation
3:45PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Coal baron's action plan became Trump policy initiatives
The head of one of America's largest coal companies sent a four-page "action plan" to the White House calling for rollbacks of key environmental and mine safety regulations
5:16PM ( 1 hour ago )
Trump says administration taking look at current libel laws
President Donald Trump says his administration is taking a look at the nation's libel laws
5:13PM ( 1 hour ago )
Norway's PM makes business case of 'green economy' to Trump
Norway's prime minister is telling President Donald Trump that her country remains committed to the Paris climate agreement, making the business case of the "green economy" to the real estate developer-turned president
4:38PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The Latest: Business leaders urge immigrant protections
More than 100 top business leaders, including Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Apple's Tim Cook and IBM's Ginni Rometty have signed onto a public letter urging Congress to pass legislation protecting hundreds of thousands of young people from deportation
2:19PM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: Trump says he's getting raves on immigration
President Donald Trump says he is getting rave reviews for a White House meeting on immigration
1:18PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP sources: Trump to extend sanctions relief for Iran
President Donald Trump is expected this week to once again renew Iran nuclear sanctions relief, citing progress in amending U.S. legislation that governs Washington's participation in the landmark 2015 nuclear accord.
1:09PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Trump open to US-NKorea talks 'under right circumstances'
President Donald Trump says he's open to talks with Kim Jong Un's government under the right conditions
6:10PM ( 9 minutes ago )
New Toyota-Mazda plant will bring 4,000 jobs to Alabama
Toyota and Mazda have chosen Southern U.S. state of Alabama as site of new $1.6 billion joint-venture plant that will eventually employ about 4,000 people
6:08PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Got batteries? Outage stalls giant tech show in Las Vegas
Thousands of attendees of the world's biggest consumer technology show got a chance to test the battery life of the latest gadgets when some showrooms and hallways went dark
6:03PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Tech gathering showcases gadgets we don't need - until we do
The CES gadget show is stuffed with devices we don't need ... or do we?
6:00PM ( 20 minutes ago )
As companies give bonuses, prospect of pay gains still hazy
As some companies award bonuses in wake of corporate tax cut, prospect of pay gains still hazy
5:57PM ( 23 minutes ago )