GOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration

GOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration
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The year-end immigration debate is splitting both parties as lawmakers eyeing campaigns in 2018 and 2020 are trying to push the discussion in different directions.

Democrats who are considering running for president in 2020 are calling for a hard line by threatening a government shutdown if Republicans don’t agree to protect young immigrants who came to the country illegally as children from deportation.

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Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenMillions of taxpayer dollars fueled Bernie Sanders to wealth success Robert Smith's gift to Morehouse graduates and its meaning for education, especially black colleges Teflon Joe? Biden brushes off attacks MORE (D-Mass.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSan Francisco police union calls on chief to resign over journalist raid Robert Smith's gift to Morehouse graduates and its meaning for education, especially black colleges Teflon Joe? Biden brushes off attacks MORE (D-Calif.), Cory BookerCory Anthony Booker2020 Democrats jockey over surging college costs Whip list: Who's clinched a spot in the 2020 Democratic debates 2020 Democrats target federal ban on abortion funding MORE (D-N.J.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersMillions of taxpayer dollars fueled Bernie Sanders to wealth success Robert Smith's gift to Morehouse graduates and its meaning for education, especially black colleges Democratic candidates should counter Trump's foreign policy MORE (I-Vt.), all prospects to run for president in three years, say they won’t vote for a year-end funding bill while these immigrants face the threat of deportation.

“I have been clear,” Harris said on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon, noting the looming deadline to fund the government. “Any bill that funds the government must also include a fix for” the young immigrants.

Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have also warned they would oppose spending legislation unless some concessions are made to protect these so-called Dreamers.

But vulnerable Democrats running for reelection next year in states that President Trump won don’t want any part of that strategy. They are aiming to show swing voters who backed Trump that they’re willing to work with Republicans when it makes sense.

“I think it’s stupid talk. You don’t want to shut the government down. That’s not where I’m going to be,” said Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterTester will endorse a 2020 candidate 'in the next week' Senate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk Threat of impeachment takes oxygen out of 2019 agenda MORE (D-Mont.), who is running for reelection in a state Trump won by more than 20 points over Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTester will endorse a 2020 candidate 'in the next week' Democratic candidates should counter Trump's foreign policy 2020 Democrats jockey over surging college costs MORE.

Tester said he wants the Dreamers taken care of, but “you don’t shut the government down.”

It’s one of the few rifts that has emerged this year between liberals and centrists, who have stayed remarkably unified in opposition to Trump’s agenda.

Republicans failed to pick up a single Democrat in either chamber to vote for their health-care or tax-reform bills.

Senate Republicans have tried to soften up centrist Democrats in red states ahead of the midterm elections by portraying them as knee-jerk obstructionists blocking Trump’s agenda.

These Democrats have pushed back by arguing they’re ready to work with the president on tax reform and other issues if he embraces some of their ideas.

Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillCongress needs to work to combat the poverty, abuse and neglect issues that children face Lobbying world Big Dem names show little interest in Senate MORE (D-Mo.), who is up for reelection next year in a state Trump carried with 56 percent of the vote, said, “I don’t have much appetite for a government shutdown and I don’t like lines in the sand.”

McCaskill said “fixing the law for the Dreamers is a very big priority,” but declined to endorse the position of liberal Democrats. 

“I guess it means I’m not in the mix for 2020,” she quipped, when a reporter noted that some colleagues with White House ambitions want to make funding the government contingent on an immigration deal.

The party’s top leaders, Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerNo agreement on budget caps in sight ahead of Memorial Day recess Ex-White House photographer roasts Trump: 'This is what a cover up looked like' under Obama Pelosi: Trump 'is engaged in a cover-up' MORE (N.Y.) and House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats claim victory as Trump gets battered in court GOP rep criticizes Trump for tweeting Pelosi video America has no time to wait for impeachment MORE (Calif.), have assiduously avoided threats of a government shutdown, knowing it could put some of their colleagues in a tough spot.

Schumer downplayed the prospect of Democrats blocking a spending measure to force Republicans to replace the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that President Obama created in 2012 to halt deportations for certain young immigrants who came to the country illegally as children.

“We don’t think we’re going to get to that. There are good negotiations occurring between Democrats and Republicans to come up with a good DACA program, as well as some good border security,” he said Tuesday after a meeting of the Democratic caucus.

Schumer’s comments are aimed at setting expectations to the left wing of his party and immigration-reform activists, who have been pressing hard for DACA provisions — with no border security language — signed into law this month.

On the other side of the aisle, Republicans are dealing with their own divisions.

GOP leaders are talking tough about immigration in public, but behind the scenes they appear eager to strike a deal with Democrats.

Conservatives deride giving legal status to immigrants in the U.S. illegally, including those brought to the country as young children, as “amnesty.”

While some Republicans, such as Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeSen. Coons examines Amazon's privacy and data security practices for Alexa devices Oil companies join blitz for carbon tax The Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget MORE (Ariz.), want to strike an immigration deal quickly, others are saying it will take weeks of additional negotiation and proposing trade-offs that Democrats dismiss as unacceptable.

Flake, who has publicly clashed with Trump, told reporters after meeting with the president Tuesday that he thinks an immigration deal is possible before Christmas. He discussed immigration reform briefly with the president before their meeting, which was focused on trade. 

Flake is working with Sens. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetWhip list: Who's clinched a spot in the 2020 Democratic debates DNC boss says candidates to be involved in debate lottery Overnight Energy: Democrats ask if EPA chief misled on vehicle emissions | Dem senators want NBC debate focused on climate change | 2020 hopeful John Delaney unveils T climate plan MORE (D-Colo.) and Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk Threat of impeachment takes oxygen out of 2019 agenda Senate Democrats request watchdog, Red Cross probe DHS detention facilities MORE (D-Ill.) to reach a compromise to help the Dreamers and expressed some irritation with colleagues for dragging their feet.

“Some of us are trying to actually make a law, not make a point. We’ve done enough of making a point,” said Flake, who is not running for reelection in 2018. 

Other Republicans are taking a tougher line with Democrats in the negotiations, raising doubts about the prospect of passing bipartisan legislation this month.

A group of Republicans led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTrump Citizenship and Immigration Services head out at agency Trump-Pelosi fight threatens drug pricing talks Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Senators unveil sweeping bipartisan health care package | House lawmakers float Medicare pricing reforms | Dems offer bill to guarantee abortion access MORE (Iowa) and Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynTrump goes scorched earth against impeachment talk The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Bipartisan House bill calls for strategy to protect 5G networks from foreign threats MORE (Texas) on Tuesday introduced the SECURE Act, which includes some tough immigration enforcement measures such as permanent authorization of the E-Verify program.

E-Verify, an internet-based system that enables employers to quickly verify the legal status of their employees, is a poison-pill provision for Democrats.

“This proposal, as I have told them personally, cannot be considered a good faith effort to provide protection for the Dreamers,” Durbin fumed in a statement.

Durbin accused the group of trying to delay and stop “any serious bipartisan effort to solve this crisis.”

The GOP legislation would also stop what is known as “chain migration.” It would allow immigrants to bring only their spouses and young children into the country.

The co-sponsors included Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamFox's Chris Wallace challenges Graham over past comments on ignoring subpoenas Graham: 'I've got a real problem' with arms sales to Saudi Arabia Graham: Pelosi's job is at risk MORE (R-S.C.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' Lawmakers call for investigation after census hired registered sex offender MORE (R-N.C.), James LankfordJames Paul LankfordSenate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump Congress reaches deal on disaster aid Bipartisan group of senators introduce legislation designed to strengthen cybersecurity of voting systems MORE (R-Okla.), David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonGOP senator says Iran needs to 'stop acting like an outlaw' Sen. Tom Cotton: 'Memorial Day is our most sacred holiday' The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan MORE (R-Ark.).

Tillis, who has had discussions with Durbin “for months” and spoken with Flake, said a deal is possible but questioned getting it done before next year.

“We’ve got a lot more to do. We’ve got [the] work visa program, we’ve got the remainder of the illegally present population and a number of areas we can really build on,” he said.

He said it would be “very ambitious given some of the gaps we got to bridge” to reach an agreement before 2018.

Yet House Republicans, at risk of losing their seats in a possible Democratic wave election next year, want to take the issue off the table ahead of 2018.

A group of 34 Republicans asked Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAmash storm hits Capitol Hill Debate with Donald Trump? Just say no Ex-Trump adviser says GOP needs a better health-care message for 2020 MORE (R-Wis.) in a letter Tuesday to schedule a vote to protect Dreamers later this month.

“We are compelled to act immediately because many DACA recipients are about to lose or have already lost their permits in the wake of the program’s rescission,” they wrote.