Hoyer: DACA deal a long ways off

Hoyer: DACA deal a long ways off
© Greg Nash
 
“Frankly, I don’t think we’re making a lot of progress,” Hoyer said during a press briefing in the Capitol. 
 
For weeks, Hoyer has been meeting behind closed doors with the deputy leaders of each chamber — Sens. John CornynJohn CornynSenate moving ahead with border bill, despite Trump GOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border Senate GOP tries to defuse Trump border crisis MORE (R-Texas), Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate Gang of Four to meet next week on immigration Live coverage: High drama as hardline immigration bill fails, compromise vote delayed Democrats protest Trump's immigration policy from Senate floor MORE (D-Ill.) and Rep. Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyTrump mocks 'elites' at campaign rally Rally crowd chants 'CNN sucks' after Trump rips media Trump's America fights back MORE (R-Calif.) — as well as White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE in search of a deal to protect the hundreds of thousands of immigrants eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. 
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Hoyer said the negotiators are “pretty close” to an agreement on the Dreamer protections, but have hit an impasse when it comes to the security provisions — namely the Republicans’ push to address family migration and diversity visas as part of the package.
 
“Border security is being, we think, substantially expanded beyond [border security],” he said.
 
President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN analyst Kirsten Powers: Melania's jacket should read 'Let them eat cake' CNN's Cuomo confronts Lewandowski over 'womp womp' remark Sessions says FBI agent Peter Strzok no longer has his security clearance MORE rescinded DACA in September, saying President Obama lacked the authority to create the program without congressional action. But Trump said he supports the concept, giving Congress until March 5 to come up with a permanent legislative fix. 
 
The crux of the disagreement between the parties has been over what should accompany the Dreamer protections. According to the top Democratic leaders, Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerMontana's environmental lobby teams with governor to kill 600 jobs Dems allow separation of parents, children to continue, just to score political points Democrats' education agenda would jeopardize state-level success MORE (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiDems, health groups demand immigrant children be quickly reunited with families Hardline immigration bill fails in the House Pelosi: GOP immigration bill is 'a compromise with the devil' MORE (D-Calif.), Trump in September had agreed to the contours of an immigration deal that coupled tougher border security with the Dream Act, which grants eventual citizenship to DACA-eligible people. 
 
More recently, the president has added to his list of demands, insisting that any DACA package also include provisions reducing family migration and eliminating the diversity visa lottery. Those additions have been endorsed by some Democrats — Durbin, for one, has authored a bill with Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate panel advances three spending bills Trump says he will sign executive order to end family separations Trump backs narrow bill halting family separations: official MORE (R-S.C.) that addresses both issues. Pelosi has endorsed the Durbin bill. 
 
But Hoyer has been a vocal opponent of that approach, arguing that the DACA protections should be coupled with border security and nothing else. The issues of family migration and diversity visas, he says, should be considered as part of a broader comprehensive immigration reform package — something Congress should address after dealing with the more urgent fate of the Dreamers.
 
“They want to deal with a significant portion of Phase 2 in Phase 1, holding the DACA kids hostage,” Hoyer said. “We’re prepared to make some compromises on [border security]. What we’re not prepared to do is go into Phase 2 and deal with substantial changes to our immigration policies outside of the context of doing everything.”  
 
Hoyer and the group of deputy leaders are scheduled to meet again Tuesday afternoon in the Capitol.