Trump's comments threaten already-delicate DACA talks

Things were getting heated on Capitol Hill on immigration even before President Donald Trump asked lawmakers in a clo...

Posted: Jan 12, 2018 11:51 AM
Updated: Jan 12, 2018 11:51 AM

Things were getting heated on Capitol Hill on immigration even before President Donald Trump asked lawmakers in a closed-door meeting Thursday why the US was bringing in immigrants from "shithole" countries into the US.

Republicans have been engaged in a showdown for days over which corner of their party has Trump's ear in negotiations over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program expiring in March. With Trump's vulgar comments, moderates may be growing increasingly nervous that they're losing in the fight to pull Trump to the center.

Moderate lawmakers were feeling already feeling the squeeze in immigration talks

Conservatives balked at the proposal from the "Group of Six"

On Thursday afternoon, a bipartisan group of six lawmakers led by Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Dick Durbin of Illinois, had finally agreed on a plan to shield hundreds of thousands of immigrants with DACA -- the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program -- from being deported. But their victory -- first announced by Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona -- was short-lived.

The details hadn't even yet been shopped around to their colleagues when conservatives started balking at the agreement and the only man that mattered in the debate -- Trump -- sent his party back to the drafting table.

Ready to brief Trump on their negotiations, Durbin and Graham traveled to the White House Thursday thinking they would be meeting privately with the President, a source familiar told CNN. When they arrived, they discovered that several other more hardline immigration hawks, including Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, would also be in the room. The surprise was first reported by The Washington Post.

A source described at one point Durbin explained to Trump a proposal to end the visa lottery in exchange for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for countries such as Haiti. CNN reported that Trump responded, according to a source familiar with the meeting: "Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out."

Cotton told reporters when he returned to Capitol Hill after the White House meeting, "There is no deal."

The bipartisan group had spent months meeting and crafting their bill and while it was long-expected to find resistance among restrictionist immigration types, more moderate Republicans on immigration had tried to make the case to the President that it was -- Flake put it -- the only game in town. Unlike health care or tax reform, the immigration bill would only pass with 60 votes, Flake and Graham repeated. That meant that negotiating with Democrats and finding a bill that could win their support wasn't an option.

"I don't think we'll get all Republicans," Flake said Thursday. "I never thought we would."

But the bipartisan "Group of Six," which included many of the same players that negotiated the hard right's much maligned 2013 immigration bill -- was being squeezed even before Thursday.

"Just because the Gang of Six or gang of whatever agrees to something, it's going to have to be vetted by the other members," Louisiana's Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican, warned earlier this week. "There's a lot of folks who haven't spoken up yet."

In the days leading up to their announced bipartisan agreement, some conservatives were more public and pointed about their doubts about the Group of Six's effort.

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz told CNN flatly he couldn't imagine supporting anything the group came up with.

"Passing an amnesty bill that continues chain migration and has only fig-leaf token efforts and border security would be a serious mistake," Cruz said.

And, the Senate's Republican Whip John Cornyn announced the No. 2s in the House and the Senate, including Durbin, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer would take the lead in negotiations rather than the bipartisan group.

"We are not going to default to existing groups, they were too many groups to count and they were basically getting nowhere so that's why, I think, the need to move to this level," Cornyn told reporters earlier in the week about the new power structure.

The Republicans, however, are finding themselves in a precarious position. The President gave them a deadline of March 5 and they can't just pass an immigration bill without Democrats. They don't have a filibuster-proof majority. Not to mention, many of the most conservative members may never get comfortable with any bill that gives hundreds of thousands of immigrants -- even if they entered the country as children -- a path to legalization or citizenship, something some members perceive as amnesty.

And, even if a bill was voted on and passed the Senate, legislation still faces long odds in the Republican-controlled House where there the differences between Democrats and Republicans are even greater. House Speaker Paul Ryan has far more hardline immigration hawks in his conference. Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, has far more members who are opposed to any kind of deal that set back the parents of DACA recipients either by limiting chain migration or other mechanisms.

Still, it's unclear how Trump's comments will affect the negotiations for now.

A person familiar told CNN that the language was salty on both sides Thursday, but added it shouldn't be interpreted as poisoning the changes for a deal.

"It's a negotiation process," this person said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319511

Reported Deaths: 7368
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22267267
Hinds20657421
Harrison18401317
Rankin13868282
Jackson13681248
Madison10239224
Lee10052176
Jones8458167
Forrest7824153
Lauderdale7257242
Lowndes6501150
Lamar634088
Lafayette6303121
Washington5419136
Bolivar4836133
Panola4665110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4600147
Marshall4572105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425073
Union415677
Monroe4155135
Neshoba4059179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386487
Leflore3515125
Tate342386
Sunflower339391
Pike3368111
Alcorn324272
Scott319774
Yazoo314171
Adams305886
Itawamba305078
Copiah299666
Coahoma298484
Simpson298189
Tippah291868
Prentiss283661
Leake271774
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George252051
Newton248663
Tishomingo231268
Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190374
Clay187754
Stone187433
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174032
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135347
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry126738
Amite126242
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108033
Tunica108027
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman81916
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69432
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548323

Reported Deaths: 11288
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809531565
Mobile42066826
Madison35663525
Tuscaloosa26162458
Shelby25595254
Montgomery25081612
Baldwin21839313
Lee16265176
Calhoun14718325
Morgan14626285
Etowah14171363
Marshall12449230
Houston10764288
Elmore10295213
Limestone10182157
St. Clair10160251
Cullman9941201
Lauderdale9596249
DeKalb8967189
Talladega8458184
Walker7335280
Autauga7230113
Blount6944139
Jackson6922113
Colbert6414140
Coffee5627127
Dale4929114
Russell454941
Chilton4472116
Franklin431083
Covington4273122
Tallapoosa4136155
Escambia401780
Chambers3726124
Dallas3607156
Clarke352961
Marion3242106
Pike314078
Lawrence3129100
Winston283572
Bibb268464
Geneva257581
Marengo250665
Pickens236862
Barbour234659
Hale226878
Butler224071
Fayette218162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph187044
Monroe179341
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155657
Cleburne153244
Lamar146537
Lowndes142054
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113430
Coosa111429
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93534
Choctaw62025
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Columbus
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The relative lack of humidity has been a welcome change from the summertime stuffiness we’ve had lately. That lack of humidity will once again ensure that temperatures get down into the mid 60s for early morning Thursday. While Friday morning will remain comfortable as well, rain chances ratchet up as a tropical system approaches this weekend.
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