A group of bipartisan congressional leaders and President Donald Trump agreed to narrow the focus of their immigration reform negotiations down to four topics following a meeting at the White House Tuesday.
While key details still need to be ironed out, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said their discussions were “very productive,” signaling negotiators should be able to work out a compromise long before Congress’ March 5 deadline to find a legislative fix to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — the Obama-era initiative that extended temporary legal status to foreign nationals who illegally entered the country as minors — before protections for DREAMers expire.
“We all agreed upon we will continue meeting but we’re only going to focus on four topics: DACA, border security, chain migration and the lottery,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters following the meeting. “And those are the issues that we’ll work towards — anything else on immigration will be done at another time, but we’ll get together hopefully as soon as tomorrow.”
Top lawmakers said they’re hopeful they will be able to come to an agreement ahead of schedule, with leadership arranging additional meetings to hash out the details in coming days.
“Well the goal is as soon as it’s doable,” McCarthy said. “Look the quicker the better — March is the last deadline — not the idea.”
GOP Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart said both sides sill need to “give big” if they are going to strike a deal, but he is confident they will get it done.
“I think we can do it, because I think Democrats generally, as they said there, they want to do border security, they understand that we have a problem with the visa lottery, they understand that we have a problem with chain migration and that’s an issue that has to be dealt with, and we have to deal with DACA,” Diaz-Balart told reporters.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said while both members of parties who attended the meeting at the White House are in agreement a solution to DACA needs to be resolved, Democrats have not committed to any specifics as of yet.
“I’m not sure we had any part in agreeing to those [four parameters] but we did agree that those were the issues that had been raised at the meeting — that was accurate and that’s factual,” Hoyer told reporters after a meeting with Democrats Tuesday evening. “We’re for solving the DACA issue, and I’m for doing that — but that does not mean I’m for X Y or Z. What it does mean is I’m for resolving and continuing protections and a path toward citizenship for the DACA individuals.”
While bipartisan talks are ongoing, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte is slated to release a Republican DACA bill Wednesday, which is expected to go beyond the parameters set in Tuesday’s White House meeting.
“So there are other things that are going to be in the bill that we’re going to introduce tomorrow that will set forth the things we think are necessary to address the overall problem that created DACA situation in the first place of illegal immigration,” Goodlatte said following the meeting. “We know that not all of those things will be in this first process so we’re looking forward to addressing those hopefully very soon in a second step as well.”