House leaders from both parties and minority caucus chairs are meeting Wednesday to discuss the potential for legislation to protect Dreamers — undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children.
The meeting is expected to yield specifics in terms of what border security measures Republicans want in exchange for providing permanent relief for Dreamers, whose title comes from the not-yes-passed DREAM Act.
Leaders in both parties are holding their cards close to their chest, but both sides have expressed interest in bringing a bill to a vote after President Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program.
Under DACA, nearly 800,000 Dreamers were given work permits and deferral from deportation. The program is slated to end in six months, with individual DACA permits expiring between March 6 and early 2020.
Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHow Kevin McCarthy sold his soul to Donald Trump On The Trail: Retirements offer window into House Democratic mood Stopping the next insurrection MORE (R-Wis.) said in an interview Wednesday that deporting DACA recipients is not in the country's "best interest," but warned that a bill would not pass without unspecified border security measures.
Democrats have said which border security measures they oppose, but say they're waiting for Ryan to pitch a proposal before they go into specifics about which measures they could live with.
"[Ryan's] staff have briefed him what we said are nonstarters: [border] wall, detention beds, interior enforcement, more efforts to do expedited removals — all this stuff that we know creates due process nightmares, targeting individuals in a discriminatory fashion, we aren't doing," said Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) chairwoman Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), who will be attending the meeting.
Lujan Grisham said Democrats' priority in the meeting was to get a vote on the DREAM Act, a measure that would put an estimated 1.2 million Dreamers on a pathway to citizenship.
"We asked for the meeting, now he's called the meeting. Our sense is he has an agenda for us and we're going to hold firm on the principles, including clean DREAM Act, we want a vote," she said.
Lujan Grisham said Democrats would wait for Ryan's proposals before revealing their hand.
"We don't want to say, 'do this' and then you do that. What if he's willing to do a clean act and we've got time to be thoughtful?" she said.
Still, Ryan made it clear earlier Wednesday that border enforcement would be non-negotiable for any immigration measure to pass the House.
"I do believe there's got to be a solution to this problem, but at the same time I think it's only reasonable, it makes perfect common sense, that we deal with the problem that was the root cause of this, which is we do not have operational control of our borders," said Ryan.
Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) said it was wrong to tie immigration, especially when it comes to Dreamers, to border security.
"No, he's looking at it completely wrong. What we have is an immigration system that doesn't fit well with today's American economy," said Cárdenas.
"If I had it my way, what I would do is attach the DREAM Act to education policy, to economic policy," he added.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) and Congressional Asian Pacific Anmerican Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) will also attend the meeting.