T
here were White House talks on a DACA replacement last week but it was unclear what progress was made on replacing the Obama-era Executive Order (E.O) on the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Democrats are making sounds that a DACA fix must be part of a deal done this month. The Republican position is less clear with some sounding a militant theme that any DACA fix must result in the Mexico border wall.

The President met with six Republican senators last Thursday, January 4 but seemed to send mixed messages. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Senator James Lankford (R-OK) took the lead in addressing the public saying that the group of six Republicans had set up a framework that would be shared this week with Democrats. Their comments however raise some serious concerns regarding progress.

Tillis tied the discussions to an inclusion not just of increased boarder security but the inclusion of $1.6 billion to begin work on a 74-mile wall. The White House has drafted an $18 billion proposal for an even bigger wall. The Senators also discussed another Trump priority of restricting “chain-migration” a part of current immigration law that allows some priority to family members seeking to immigrate.

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), one of the most aggressive Senators regarding immigration policy also raised his desire to limit both chain migration and cutting back on green cards as well as ending the Diversity Visa lottery. The two issues are related since chain migration increases certain populations that are already here. The Diversity Visa allows up to 50,000 people a year to take their chances in a lottery under certain requirements to immigrate to the United States despite not having relatives here. Chain migration is seen by some advocates as encouraging stability by keeping families together.

While the six Senators seemed to be pleased with their progress other sounds were not as positive. The House, including Republicans, were not at the meeting. In fact, one group of conservative members led by Congressman Raul Labrador (R-ID) introduced a more conservative fix of DACA that would restrict chain migration, place new restrictions on unaccompanied minors and add more security and more wall funding. That contrasts with a pre-Christmas letter by 34 House Republicans calling for a DACA fix by the end of last December.

In addition to mixed feelings by House Republicans, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said that Senator McConnell had committed to a DACA fix vote by the end of January. That was part of his price for supporting the tax bill.

Another larger meeting with the President is expected this week.

About the Author:

John Sciamanna is CWLA's Vice President of Public Policy.

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