Aide Stephen Miller, Trump's top immigration adviser, is crafting a
hard-line plan that risks blowing up any deal with Democrats.
The White House is finalizing a plan to demand hard-line immigration reforms
in exchange for supporting a fix on the DACA program, according to three
people familiar with the talks — an approach that risks alienating
Democrats and even many Republicans, potentially tanking any deal.
The White House proposal is being crafted by Stephen Miller, the administration’s
top immigration adviser, and includes cutting legal immigration by half
over the next decade, an idea that’s already been panned by lawmakers
in both parties.
The principles would likely be a political non-starter for Democrats and
infuriate Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader
Nancy Pelosi, who have negotiated with President Donald Trump on immigration
and left a White House meeting last month indicating a solution was near.
They could also divide Republicans, many of whom oppose cutting legal
Miller was upset after Trump’s dinner last month with Schumer and
Pelosi and has been working since to bring the president back to the tougher
stance he took during his campaign.
Miller has begun talking with Hill aides and White House officials about
the principles in recent days. The administration is expected to send
its immigration wish-list to Congress in the coming days, perhaps as soon
as this weekend, said the people familiar with the plan, who include two
administration officials. They requested anonymity to discuss the ongoing
A White House official cautioned that the plans have not been finalized
and could still change. Miller didn't respond to a request for comment.
Unless they change dramatically from their current form, the immigration
principles could short-circuit congressional negotiations aimed at finding
a fix to DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program —
the Obama-era initiative that grants work permits to undocumented immigrants
who arrived in the United States as minors.
“Handing Stephen Miller the pen on any DACA deal after the revolt
from their base is the quickest way to blow it up,” said a senior
Democratic Senate aide.
Lawmakers on both sides of the Capitol panned an earlier White House immigration
proposal spearheaded by Miller, the RAISE Act, when the White House rolled
it out in August. Republicans including Sens. Lindsey Graham of South
Carolina and Ron Johnson .)of Wisconsin all but declared the proposal
dead on arrival.
announced last month that he would end the DACA program, but he said he’d
give Congress six months to come up with a legislative solution.
Despite Trump’s efforts to make nice with Schumer and Pelosi, Republican
signaled this week that the president is prepared to demand tough immigration measures
as part of the negotiations.
In addition to provisions in the RAISE Act, the White House’s immigration
principles also include parts of the Davis-Oliver Act, including measures
that would give state and local law enforcement power to enforce immigration
laws, allow states to write their own immigration laws and expand criminal
penalties for entering the U.S. illegally.
The principles would also incorporate a provision from the Davis-Oliver
Act that puts the onus on Congress to designate Temporary Protected Status,
which allows immigrants to temporarily stay in the United States because
they are unable to return to their home country as a result of a natural
disaster or other dangerous circumstances.
The Davis-Oliver Act gives Congress 90 days to approve a measure extending
TPS protections to a foreign state. If Congress does not act, the designation
will be terminated. Lawmakers have raised concerns that Congress will
be unable to agree on the designations, effectively killing the program.
In addition, the principles call for billions of dollars in border security,
as well as money for detention beds and more immigration judges, according
to the people familiar with them. Republicans are likely to support those moves.
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