Kushner, Miller talk immigration at Senate GOP lunch

Kushner, Miller talk immigration at Senate GOP lunch
© Greg Nash

White House senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerTop immigration aide experienced 'jolt of electricity to my soul' when Trump announced campaign Dick Cheney to attend fundraiser supporting Trump reelection: report Trump Jr. dismisses conflicts of interest, touts projects in Indonesia MORE briefed the Senate GOP conference Tuesday on the White House's plan to overhaul legal immigration as part of an effort to build support for the forthcoming proposal. 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamPelosi warns Mnuchin to stop 'illegal' .3B cut to foreign aid Graham warns Trump on Taliban deal in Afghanistan: Learn from 'Obama's mistakes' Appropriators warn White House against clawing back foreign aid MORE (R-S.C.), whose panel has jurisdiction on immigration proposals, characterized the White House plan as an effort to unite Republicans on border security and immigration and give Trump a proposal that he can use to define what he supports. 
"I don't think it's designed to get Democratic support as much as it is to unify the Republican Party around border security," he said. 
Graham added that the White House was trying to unify Republicans around a "negotiating position" that would allow the party to say "this is what we want on border security. This is what we want on merit-based immigration and then we'll have to sit down and find common ground on the 11 million." 
Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoAmerica is in desperate need of infrastructure investment: Senate highway bill a step in the right direction On The Money: Economy adds 164K jobs in July | Trump signs two-year budget deal, but border showdown looms | US, EU strike deal on beef exports Trump border fight throws curveball into shutdown prospects MORE (R-W.Va.), who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, said the presentation represented the "broad outlines of a plan." She added that the White House proposal included "six buckets" that covered areas including employment status and humanitarian assistance. 
The meeting with the full Republican conference comes after roughly a dozen GOP senators went to the White House earlier this month to discuss legislation to transition the system for legal immigration to a "merit-based" system.
The White House proposal, which was spearheaded by Kushner, would not cut the total number of legal immigrants, roughly 1.1 million, accepted into the United States every year. Instead, senators say it 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. 
But any immigration proposal faces uphill odds on Capitol Hill, where multiple pieces of legislation have failed in both the House and Senate. 
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. 
A bill by Sens. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonCongress must address gender gap in nominations to military service academies GOP senators press Google on reports it developed a smart speaker with Huawei Sunday shows - Mass shootings grab the spotlight MORE (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) that would have overhauled legal immigration but included cuts to the total number of immigrants awarded green cards also failed to make headway, stalling in the Senate Judiciary Committee despite Trump's endorsement of the legislation.
"There was a lot of encouragement in the room today for the work they've done," he said. "A lot of encouragement."