White House quietly working on immigration compromise

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the White House is quietly floating a compromise on immigration reform that would include legalizing 1.8 million DREAMers, as well as ending chain migration and the visa lottery. Also included in the White House plan is a pledge not to cut legal immigration for 10 years.

The Senate is ready to have a debate on the issue this coming week and there are several issues on the table that will no doubt cause controversy on both sides. 

President Trump has proposed a series of measures, including restrictions on family unification, which he calls "chain migration," and an end to the visa lottery, that critics say ultimately could cut legal immigration to America by 40% or more.

But a White House official said Saturday that the Trump administration is working with allies in the Senate on a proposal that would create a path to citizenship for an estimated 1.8 million people who were brought to the country illegally as children, and that would clear the backlog of nearly 4 million sponsored relatives who currently are waiting for green cards.

The combined effort, officials said, would effectively make up for the cuts in other immigration categories for about 13 years, the official said. After that, if Congress takes no additional action to add or expand visa categories, the total number of people allowed to resettle in the U.S. each year likely would decline by hundreds of thousands.

The outline began emerging early this week when John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, and Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of Homeland Security, met with a half a dozen or so Latino Republicans at the White House and said the administration was prepared to ensure that overall immigration levels would remain steady.

There is a large number of Republicans who would not support much of what is being proposed. This means that Trump is going to need Democratic votes - and lots of them. But are the Democrats really interested in passing any kind of immigration reform, including legalizing DREAMers?

On Saturday, Trump accused the Democrats of trying to politicize the Dreamers' plight ahead of the midterm election in November.

"Republicans want to fix DACA far more than the Democrats do," he tweeted. Democrats "only want to use it as a campaign issue."

Democratic leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), have signaled privately to the White House they are willing to negotiate Trump's demand for $25 billion as part of a broader immigration package that would include help for the Dreamers.

The money would go into a "trust fund" for walls or fences on the southern border, as well as other border security purposes.

The hardest sell for Democratic lawmakers and immigration advocates has been Trump's insistence on limiting the types of family members that U.S. citizens and permanent residents can help resettle in the U.S., and what happens to those who already have applied.

Deriding the program as "chain migration," Trump says only sponsors' spouses and non-adult children should be admitted. People now can sponsor parents and, in some cases, siblings and adult children.

Trump is correct. From a political point of view, it would be advantageous for Democrats not to have any immigration reform at all. They can simply blame Trump and the Republicans for inaction. 

But there is danger for Democrats in trying to obstruct immigration reform. This proposal - if it is fleshed out - would sound reasonable to a majority of voters. Dems wouldn't be seen as heroes, but as obstructionists. That could even hurt them with Hispanics - a group that Democrats are hoping will turn out in huge numbers in November.

Twenty-five billion dollars for immigration enforcement is a lot of money. If Democrats are willing to vote for that, many Republicans may swallow their opposition to some of Trump's reform proposals and vote for it as well. 

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