Hoyer: DACA deal a long ways off

Hoyer: DACA deal a long ways off
© Greg Nash
Lawmakers and White House officials are talking, but a bipartisan deal to protect so-called Dreamers remains a long ways away, House Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerDemocrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her Dems' confidence swells with midterms fast approaching Trump's Puerto Rico tweets spark backlash MORE (D-Md.) said Tuesday.
 
“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 CornynKey GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand Trump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle GOP mulls having outside counsel question Kavanaugh, Ford MORE (R-Texas), Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDurbin: ‘No reason’ for people to remember Kavanaugh at party accuser describes Durbin: Kavanaugh's accuser is not being treated respectfully Grassley to administration: You must consult Congress on refugee cap MORE (D-Ill.) and Rep. Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOn The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Midterms to shake up top posts on House finance panel The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil 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 TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser MORE rescinded DACA in September, saying President Obama lacked the authority to create the program without congressional action.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 SchumerTrump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle READ: President Trump’s exclusive interview with Hill.TV The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump slams Sessions in exclusive Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh accuser wants FBI investigation MORE (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiDems see Kavanaugh saga as playing to their advantage Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her Sinema, Fitzpatrick call for long-term extension of Violence Against Women Act 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 GrahamHouse Judiciary chair threatens subpoena if DOJ doesn’t supply McCabe memos by Tuesday Rosenstein report gives GOP new ammo against DOJ Graham: There's a 'bureaucratic coup' taking place against Trump 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.