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Immigration hard-liners on DACA deal: Trump betrayed us

Andrea Drusch, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- The Republican Party's toughest anti-immigration voices say they've been abandoned in the debate over the fate of the 800,000 young people living in the country under Obama-era protections.

There's little they can do in Congress to stop what appears to be a looming deal between Republicans, Democrats and the White House, despite repeated assurances from then-candidate Donald Trump throughout his 2016 campaign that he would be immigration hard-liners' champion.

With few voices left at the negotiating table, anti-immigration voices on Capitol Hill and around the country are scrambling to find what if any leverage they have left in the debate over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

"It looks to me like it's shaping up to be a disaster, a calamity that the Democrats have dreamed of and engineered," said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, long one of the GOP's most outspoken hard-liners.

"Republicans have no motivation to do this," King added. "They're watching as Democrats are shifting the electorate in America, demographically speaking."

Immigration hard-liners, who don't want to see a path to legal status for DACA recipients, say they have few options to influence a pending deal.

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A group of three Republicans and three Democrats offered a tentative deal Thursday, but it's unclear that Trump and House Republicans will go along. The agreement would reportedly help DACA beneficiaries stay in this country, though details were unclear.

Trump announced in September that he planned to end DACA March 5, making good on a campaign promise viewed as crucial by the conservatives who fueled his victory. He also asked Congress to come up with a solution that would codify the program without deporting its beneficiaries, who he called "good, educated and accomplished young people."

The no-compromise contingent says Trump won the presidency, in part, by promising to be an ally on their issues. They watched in horror on Tuesday as he met at the White House with members of Congress from both parties to negotiate a deal to protect Dreamers from deportation.

"I don't want to use the word 'betrayal' yet, because we haven't reached the end of the line here. ... But I think it's really important for the president to hear from all of us," conservative radio host Laura Ingraham said of the meeting. "Trump won this election in large part by having a different attitude than the rest of the GOP establishment on the issue of immigration."


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