House Dems rebuff Trump’s four-tier DACA approach

House Dems rebuff Trump’s four-tier DACA approach
© Greg Nash

House Democratic leaders pushed back at President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Milley warns of 'Sputnik moment' for China WSJ publishes letter from Trump continuing to allege voter fraud in PA Oath Keeper who was at Capitol on Jan. 6 runs for New Jersey State Assembly MORE’s demand Wednesday that legislation on border security and “Dreamers” also include changes to legal immigration.

The heads of the House Democratic Caucus, Reps. Joseph Crowley (N.Y.) and Linda Sánchez (Calif.), said Trump’s insistence that a bill also reduce family-based migration and eliminate the diversity visa lottery would be a deal-killer for many Democrats.

The two Democrats set their sights on a narrow bill that includes border security and legislation on the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, arguing the four-part plan demanded by the White House won’t fly with their caucus.

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“Let’s focus on Dreamers with some elements of border security, keep it very narrowly focused,” Sánchez told reporters in the Capitol. “We’re better to stick to a narrow focus, and we’ll deal with the thornier issues that we can’t agree on in a comprehensive immigration bill.”

The Democrats’ messaging on DACA has been somewhat muddled by disagreements over the contours of a deal. While most Democrats seem to oppose the four-tier approach that addresses legal immigration, House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden to meet House Dems before Europe trip: report On The Money — Will the billionaire tax survive Joe Manchin? Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by American Clean Power — Democrats prepare to grill oil execs MORE (D-Calif.) has endorsed a Senate proposal — sponsored by Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamMcConnell backs Herschel Walker in Georgia Senate race After 35 years, Congress should finally end the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine McCain blasts Graham for refuting funeral remark about Kushner, Ivanka Trump MORE (R-S.C.) and Dick DurbinDick DurbinPatience wears thin as Democrats miss deadlines 535 'presidents' with veto power: Why budget deal remains elusive After 35 years, Congress should finally end the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine MORE (D-Ill.) — that does just that.

More recently Pelosi has given voice to a narrower House bill, championed by Reps. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdFirst Democrat jumps into key Texas House race to challenge Gonzales Will the real Lee Hamiltons and Olympia Snowes please stand up? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Congress drawn into pipeline cyberattack, violence in Israel MORE (R-Texas) and Peter Aguilar (D-Calif.), that couples DACA protections with border security and excludes the other two pillars.

The four-part plan would also include changes to family-based immigration, which conservatives describe as “chain migration,” and end the visa lottery program that awards visas to countries with lower numbers of people coming to the United States.

Democratic opposition to a far-reaching DACA bill would likely prove consequential, since House GOP leaders will almost certainly need a significant number of Democratic votes to move such legislation through the lower chamber, where Republicans are sharply divided on immigration issues. 

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanJuan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Cheney takes shot at Trump: 'I like Republican presidents who win re-election' Cheney allies flock to her defense against Trump challenge MORE (R-Wis.) on Wednesday declined to guarantee there would even be a floor vote on DACA under his watch. 

After weeks of pressure from conservatives, Ryan and House GOP leaders agreed Tuesday to begin whipping DACA legislation favored by immigration hawks. Sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteFight breaks out between Jordan, Nadler over rules about showing video at Garland hearing The job of shielding journalists is not finished Bottom line MORE (R-Va.), the bill would provide legal protections to Dreamers — but not a path to citizenship — combined with a host of tough enforcement measures and a reduction in legal immigration. 

“What's the point of just fixing part of it, and then having the same problem five, 10 years down the road?” Ryan asked. “That is why we're talking about interior enforcement. That's why we're talking about border security.”

The Goodlatte proposal has no Democratic support, however, and it’s unlikely that House GOP leaders have the Republican votes to pass it on their own. If it did move through the lower chamber, Democrats have warned that it would be dead on arrival in the Senate. 

“It’s not a bipartisan bill, and he’s dreaming if he thinks that that is a solution,” said Sánchez.

Democrats have pounced on Ryan’s strategy, accusing the Speaker of jeopardizing Dreamers through inaction.

“Paul Ryan is the sole impediment to us passing a bipartisan bill that would give the relief that Dreamers need and deserve,” said Sánchez.

The comments arrive as immigration reformers are scrambling to salvage DACA — which provides legal protections to hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought to the country illegally as kids — ahead of a March 5 deadline set by Trump last year. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell backs Herschel Walker in Georgia Senate race The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats insist budget consensus close as talks drag on Manchin backs raising debt ceiling with reconciliation if GOP balks MORE (R-Ky.) is presiding this week over an open-ended amendment process designed to construct a DACA bill from scratch that can defeat a filibuster and pass the upper chamber. Bipartisan negotiators are working on several such bills, but it’s unclear if any enjoy the support of 60 senators — or the president. 

Meanwhile, the window for action appears to be closing quickly. McConnell has given Senate negotiators until Thursday to reach a deal. 

“The failure to address … DACA will be squarely on the heads of McConnell and Ryan,” Crowley predicted Wednesday. 

“It will be their legacy.”