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McCarthy: Congress will hit March deadline on DACA solution

McCarthy: Congress will hit March deadline on DACA solution
© Camille Fine

Congress will create a solution before a March deadline for nearly 800,000 immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse GOP lawmaker: Trump 'put all of our lives at risk' Sasse, in fiery op-ed, says QAnon is destroying GOP Democrats seize on GOP donor fallout MORE (R-Calif.) told The Hill's Saturday HillCast.

During a wide-ranging interview for The Hill’s Power Politics podcast, McCarthy expressed confidence that a politically difficult impasse could be bridged in Congress within the next four months.

“I believe at the end of the day, we’ll come to an agreement together to get that done,” he said.

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The majority leader, describing in rosy terms House GOP bills that died in the Senate this year, predicted a bipartisan resolution for the young immigrants by March. That's the deadline handed to Congress by President Trump when he terminated the immigration program originally created at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by former President Obama.

Obama’s 2012 program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), temporarily protected young immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children. An estimated 800,000 beneficiaries of the DACA program are living, studying and working in the United States.

In September, Trump rescinded the program following seven uneasy months of internal deliberations. He softened his customary tough rhetoric about illegal immigration to say he sought a path forward that would show “heart and compassion.”

Guided by White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE, his former DHS secretary, Trump decided Congress would have to craft a statutory solution to a program the administration believed had violated the law.

This week, House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRevising the pardon power — let the Speaker and Congress have voices Paul Ryan will attend Biden's inauguration COVID-19 relief bill: A promising first act for immigration reform MORE (R-Wis.) said a DACA fix remains a priority for his conference.

“We think we have to have a DACA solution,” he told NPR.

Ryan described the discussions as one element within broader talks with Democratic lawmakers about immigration enforcement, separate from Democratic entreaties to attach DACA protections to a must-pass spending measure to keep the government operating.

“We don’t see this as part of a spending bill,” Ryan said. “That has nothing to do with immigration law.”

McCarthy said talks within an immigration working group, and his conversations with senior Democratic lawmakers have been “very productive … to see where we can go to solve this DACA problem, and where we can actually have stronger border security.”

Without action by Congress, DACA recipients will begin to lose their protections from deportation on March 5.

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