Even as a group of six Senators said they had their own agreement, and key lawmakers in both parties in Congress expressed hope for a bipartisan plan to shield illegal immigrant “Dreamers” from deportation, there was still no deal on Thursday which had won the final support of President Donald Trump, as the White House said he wasn’t backing down from his call for a bill that deals with the DACA program and immigration enforcement.
“There’s no agreement with the President, the President is the one who has to sign it into law, so there’s no deal yet,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), who had met earlier in the day at the White House on immigration matters with Mr. Trump and other lawmakers.
Perdue said the President made it clear again to members of both parties that any deal on Dreamers must also include money for a border wall, an end to chain migration, and an end to the Diversity Visa lottery.
“Honestly,” Perdue told reporters, “we’re not that far away.”
Meanwhile, high level talks continued on the matter with the number two lawmakers from each party in the House and Senate, as those four were joined by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly in the search for a deal.
“I can tell you that a deal has not been reached,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
“We’re going to continue working with members of the House and the Senate, Republicans and Democrats, to make sure that we try to get that deal done,” Sanders added.
There was a deal announced Thursday afternoon on how to deal with the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, as a group of six Senators, led by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said they had an agreement in principle – but it was not clear if the fine print would pass muster with the President.
“We have been working for four months and have reached an agreement in principle that addresses border security, the diversity visa lottery, chain migration/family reunification, and the Dream Act,” the group of Senators said in a statement.
“We are now working to build support for that deal in Congress,” they added.
And that’s the rub for many lawmakers who can agree on the four areas of interest that the President had asked for – but the details of that might mean different things to different people of different parties.
Democrats still want to force action in Congress on a DACA plan by January 19, when a government funding plan runs out. Republicans have said they won’t rush anything, looking more toward an early March deadline for action set by President Trump.
“I think we will be able to put together a DACA compromise that has a majority support from our party,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is certain to encounter more conservative Republicans who don’t want to give a pathway to citizenship to illegal immigrant Dreamers.
While Ryan praised a House GOP immigration bill that was released on Wednesday night, Democrats made clear it was unacceptable.
“The House GOP’s latest immigration proposal is one of the most anti-immigrant pieces of legislation I’ve ever seen,” said Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN).