Trump blames Democrats, and vice versa, as efforts to protect 'Dreamers' have fizzled out

Brian Bennett, Tribune Washington Bureau on

Published in Political News

"While I'm glad that DACA recipients have a little bit more time, for some, that urgency is no longer there," said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican from Florida who has worked on previous immigration bills.

Similarly, Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of the Republican leadership, said on Wednesday: "Some of the time pressure has gone off DACA, but if you're a DACA kid, you're a DACA young adult, you still feel that pressure, I'm sure."

It is a problem "we ought to solve," Blunt said. "There is an ongoing discussion, but I don't think there's a bipartisan solution."

Republicans and Democrats each are waiting for an overture or concession from the other party, according to interviews on Capitol Hill. Democrats, however, are less eager to act in the wake of the court rulings, banking that they will have more congressional seats -- and more leverage -- after the midterm election results are in.

"If there was helium in the balloon, I think it has been zapped," said Angela Kelley, a senior strategic adviser for immigration at the Open Society Policy Center, which favors looser immigration restrictions. Republicans have "no clear plan," she added, and "Democrats would be wise to hang back and see what they come to them with."

"Right now, Democrats are just not talking," said Alfonso Aguilar, president of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles. "They are playing with the Dreamers."

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The Senate last month failed to pass either Trump's preferred bill, which would not only legalize Dreamers but also sharply restrict legal immigration, or a separate, bipartisan measure with more support. Afterward, several Republican senators suggested extending the current DACA program as part of a government-spending bill that must pass by March 23 to avoid another federal shutdown.

Yet as Republican and Democratic leadership aides have met this week to determine what goes into the spending bill, neither side has proposed adding an immigration provision, three aides said.

The White House has opposed a short-term fix, arguing that Trump wants to hold out for significant reductions in legal immigration and for money to build his proposed southern border wall in exchange for granting legal status to Dreamers. Democrats, and some Republicans, oppose Trump's demands.

In the House, Republicans have struggled to pass an immigration package championed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia. That bill would extend the DACA program but restrict who can renew, while also cutting legal immigration and requiring employers to check a federal immigration database called E-Verify before hiring employees, among other provisions.


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