Trump, Senate GOP discuss effort to overhaul legal immigration

Trump, Senate GOP discuss effort to overhaul legal immigration
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani says he is unaware of reported federal investigation Louisiana's Democratic governor forced into runoff Lawmakers focus their ire on NBA, not China MORE is reviving efforts to overhaul the legal immigration system after previous attempts by the White House were derailed on Capitol Hill.
Trump, White House staff and roughly a dozen Senate Republicans met on Tuesday to discuss a path forward for legislation transitioning to a so-called "merit-based" immigration system, according to lawmakers and the White House.
Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), a close ally of Trump's on immigration, referred to the effort as "RAISE 2.0," a reference to legislation he previously offered with Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonBipartisan senators want federal plan for sharing more info on supply chain threats On The Money: Fed officials saw rising risk of recession | Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz blast NBA for 'outrageous' response to China | Prospects dim for trade breakthrough with China Ocasio-Cortez, Ted Cruz join colleagues blasting NBA for 'outrageous' response to China MORE (R-Ark.). But unlike the previous bill, Perdue said the White House has dropped proposed cuts to legal immigration.
The GOP senator said lawmakers had "a briefing on some preliminary thoughts at a very high level about how to change … the mix of the 1.1 million legal immigrants."
Unlike the previous White House-backed bill, Perdue said that Trump's new proposal wouldn't reduce legal immigration levels, where roughly 1.1 million people receive legal immigration status in the U.S. each year.
The new proposal would try to shift the federal government's preference for who gets green cards to those with specific job skills instead of family-based immigration, Perdue said. It also wouldn't deal with undocumented immigration.
"The president wants to have a platform that he can be for. He's tired of frankly the media and the Democrats telling the world what he's against," Perdue said.
"That certainly seems to be the direction they're going and the principle focus was border security, closing loopholes that right now are mandating catch and release and helping cause the crisis we have at the border and also reforming legal immigration to move to more of a skill-based legal immigration," he said.
White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley, in a read out to reporters, called the meeting "important and productive."
"The President and Senators discussed a potential plan that would secure the border, protect and raise wages for the American worker, and move toward a merit based immigration system," he added.
Perdue and Cruz were two of the 12 GOP senators who met with Trump and other top administration officials, including Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey Kushner Biden's weak response to Trump is a lesson for Democratic candidates Mark Hamill zings Ivanka Trump for 'Star Wars' tweet Trump officials mull plan to divert billions more to border wall: report MORE, adviser Stephen MillerStephen MillerThe Memo: Drip, drip of revelations damages Trump Trump says acting Homeland Security chief McAleenan will step down Overnight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Judge blocks Trump 'public charge' rule | Appeals court skeptical of Trump arguments for Medicaid work requirements | CDC offers guidance for treating vaping-related cases MORE and acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyHillicon Valley: Trump official declines to testify on trade protections for tech | Senators call for better info-sharing on supply chain threats | Apple pulls app after Chinese pressure Overnight Energy: Dems subpoena Perry in impeachment inquiry | EPA to overhaul rules on lead contamination tests | Commerce staff wrote statement rebuking weather service for contradicting Trump Commerce staff drafted statement rebuking weather service for contradicting Trump's hurricane predictions MORE.
In addition to Perdue, Cruz and Cotton, GOP Sens. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyOvernight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Planned Parenthood charges into 2020 | PhRMA CEO warns against Pelosi drug pricing bill | Medicaid work requirements costing states millions Planned Parenthood issues first wave of 2020 House, Senate endorsements McSally says Senate taking 'serious look' at Trump call unlike 'partisan' House MORE (Ariz.), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoGOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe Nearing finish line, fight for cannabis banking bill shifts to the Senate On The Money: Trump strikes trade deal with Japan on farm goods | GOP senator to meet Trump amid spending stalemate | House passes cannabis banking bill | Judge issues one-day pause on subpoena for Trump's tax returns MORE (Idaho), Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischMcConnell warns NBA to respect free speech on China Issa's Senate confirmation hearing delayed over concerns about background check Overnight Defense: GOP wary of action on Iran | Pence says US 'locked and loaded' to defend allies | Iran's leader rules out talks with US MORE (Idaho), Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyPhRMA CEO warns Pelosi bill to lower drug prices would be 'devastating' for industry GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe On The Money: Judge tosses Trump lawsuit over NY tax return subpoena | US, Japan sign trade deals | Trump faces narrowing window for trade deals | NBA sparks anger with apology to China MORE (Iowa), Kevin CramerKevin John CramerSenate Dems aim to overturn Trump administration rollback of power plant regs Gaetz: Some lawmakers reviewed transcript at White House Primary challenges show potential cracks in Trump's GOP MORE (N.D.), Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump declares 'case closed' as text messages raise new questions Top House Democrat: Trump did 'on camera' what Romney warned about GOP senators attack whistleblower's credibility MORE (Okla.), Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnCongress set for showdown with Trump over Kurds GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe Hillicon Valley: Iranian hacking operation targeted campaign, government accounts | House panel pushes Zuckerberg to testify on Libra | Trump officials step up attacks on Facebook encryption MORE (Tenn.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeGOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe McConnell warns Trump against withdrawing troops from Syria The American people deserve a debate about Ukrainian military aid MORE (Utah) and Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziPoll: Majority of independent voters want GOP to retain control of Senate in 2020 Here are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 Liz Cheney and Rand Paul extend war of words MORE (Wyo.) attended the meeting, according to a list from the White House.
Inhofe, asked if the White House had given a timeline for when they'll formally unveil their proposal, said: "If that came out of this meeting, I guess I missed that."
Crapo declined to discuss details from the meeting but similarly said that there wasn't a "resolution" from the meeting.
"They're not ready to go public with the details," Perdue said, adding that the White House "didn't put a date on" next steps but that he expected they would move "sooner than later."
Any plan would face an uphill battle on Capitol as both parties gear up for the 2020 election, were they view immigration as an issue that helps electrify the base.
Previous attempts to get a broad immigration and border security plan through Congress ran into deeply entrenched partisan and political divides.
The Senate rejected four immigration plans in 2018, including a White House-backed measure that provided a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, included $25 billion for border security, tougher interior enforcement and new limits on legal immigration.
The previous Cotton-Perdue bill also failed to make headway, stalling in the Senate Judiciary Committee despite Trump's endorsement of the legislation.
The Tuesday meeting comes as the Trump administration has homed in on what they are calling a "humanitarian crisis" along the southern border, including requesting an additional $4.5 billion in emergency spending from Congress. 
Cramer appeared to signal after the White House meeting that the administration was focused on a narrower solution, characterizing their goal as what is "doable." Cramer added that there was no discussion about the temporary guest worker program in the meeting. 
"What they were offering up, I don't want to call it modest," he said, "but it's in the doable range."