Congress hears optimism, uncertainty in Trump's remarks on citizenship

Immigration negotiators on Capitol Hill were listening closely Wednesday night when President Donald Trump ...

Posted: Jan 25, 2018 11:25 AM
Updated: Jan 25, 2018 11:26 AM

Immigration negotiators on Capitol Hill were listening closely Wednesday night when President Donald Trump opened the door to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants.

They liked what they heard.

Lead negotiators in immigration say the President's comments show 'leadership'

"The President is headed in the right direction here," tweeted Sen. Dick Durbin, the lead Democratic negotiator in the immigration debate on Capitol Hill.

The comment was Trump's most explicit yet on where he stands on the future for recipients of the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the kind of clue lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been urging the President to drop for months now and a moderate stance that lawmakers in the middle of the road have been hoping Trump could embrace.

But what the comment means for negotiations is still uncertain.

Lead negotiators in immigration say the President's comments represent "leadership," but whether Trump will stay there is an entirely different question.

"This statement represents presidential leadership on immigration that will allow us to solve a difficult problem," Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said in a statement. "I truly appreciate President Trump making it clear that he supports a path to citizenship for DACA recipients. This will greatly help the Senate efforts to craft a proposal which President Trump can sign into law."

Trump made the comment to reporters Wednesday evening just hours after the White House announced it would release a legislative framework next week that underscored the President's priorities on an immigration bill. Trump said he was open to giving DACA recipients citizenship over a 10- to 12-year period.

"We're going to morph into it," Trump said. "It's going to happen at some point in the future."

Still, the significance of the President's comments wasn't entirely clear Wednesday. His statement came days after a shutdown and after many Republicans had resigned themselves to the fact that they might have to go it alone on immigration. A group of dozens of bipartisan senators met Wednesday evening to pick their respective leaders for a negotiation among themselves. Democrats chose Durbin and Republicans chose Sen. John Cornyn of Texas to take up the torch and work through a bipartisan immigration bill in lieu of some clear presidential leadership.

Publicly, most acknowledge that Trump's position on immigration has been in a state of flux ever since he announced last fall that he was ending DACA. Whether that changed Wednesday was an open question.

"I think he's a person who is susceptible to hearing different arguments and being persuaded by people who are making good arguments, so I think in the end he's a guy who wants to get to a deal, so I think when people come in and make their case, it sometimes has an effect," the GOP's No. 3 Republican, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, said last week.

Some have blamed Trump's adviser Stephen Miller, a hard-line conservative on immigration, for pulling the President far to the right on the issue even as moderate Republicans on Capitol Hill have tried to pull Trump to the middle.

During the shutdown, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, lamented that negotiating with Trump was similar to negotiating with Jell-O because his positions could be so fluid.

For Trump -- who made his entire campaign about being tough on immigration -- accepting a path to citizenship for DACA recipients could bring with it attacks from the right flank of the party, which he's embraced.

The issue of citizenship has long been fraught with risk for Republicans. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, struggled to explain his embrace of a Senate immigration bill that had included a path to citizenship for roughly 11 million immigrants in the country. And during his presidential campaign, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush also wavered on the question of whether he thought immigrants who are in the country illegally deserved a chance at citizenship.

Trump's statement on citizenship -- while promising to some -- could shift, and what the President will demand in return for citizenship is also still an unanswered question. Just two weeks ago, the President had said he'd accept any bipartisan immigration deal in a highly publicized meeting, only to skewer a major bipartisan proposal brought to him two days later.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 14372

Reported Deaths: 693
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds92024
Lauderdale69957
Madison68721
Scott62310
Neshoba56534
Jones52519
Forrest51137
DeSoto4936
Leake39512
Rankin3736
Holmes37324
Jackson30013
Copiah2854
Attala27715
Monroe25324
Leflore25030
Lincoln25022
Newton2504
Harrison2457
Lamar2275
Yazoo2233
Pearl River20731
Pike20211
Adams19015
Lowndes1828
Noxubee1696
Washington1636
Warren1587
Oktibbeha15010
Bolivar14911
Wayne1480
Jasper1483
Covington1411
Clarke13517
Smith13311
Kemper13110
Chickasaw12812
Lafayette1254
Lee1175
Carroll11410
Coahoma1133
Marion1129
Winston1051
Clay1043
Lawrence991
Simpson930
Hancock8711
Yalobusha855
Wilkinson859
Itawamba857
Grenada823
Montgomery811
Sunflower783
Union785
Marshall763
Jefferson Davis752
Tippah7111
Tate691
Panola643
Claiborne642
Calhoun614
Webster591
Amite561
Humphreys537
Tunica523
Walthall510
Perry492
Prentiss413
Jefferson400
Choctaw352
Stone300
Pontotoc283
Franklin272
Tishomingo260
Quitman250
Tallahatchie251
George201
Benton140
Alcorn141
Greene111
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 16310

Reported Deaths: 590
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2085112
Jefferson167397
Montgomery144634
Marshall6609
Tuscaloosa63212
Lee52632
Franklin4986
Shelby47019
Tallapoosa41063
Butler39113
Chambers34024
Madison3154
Elmore3007
Baldwin2829
Walker2821
DeKalb2403
Etowah24011
Dallas2323
Coffee2191
Lowndes21610
Morgan2111
Sumter2106
Autauga1923
Houston1854
Bullock1763
Pike1730
Colbert1612
Calhoun1523
Marengo1506
Choctaw1487
Russell1480
Lauderdale1452
Hale1416
Wilcox1327
Barbour1301
Clarke1282
Randolph1247
Marion11711
St. Clair1081
Pickens964
Dale960
Talladega963
Chilton931
Greene914
Cullman880
Limestone860
Winston770
Covington751
Jackson742
Bibb711
Henry702
Macon672
Crenshaw662
Washington656
Blount531
Escambia483
Lawrence460
Geneva400
Perry360
Conecuh351
Coosa341
Monroe342
Cherokee332
Clay272
Lamar210
Cleburne131
Fayette130
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 70°
Columbus
Few Clouds
74° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 74°
Oxford
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 66°
Starkville
Scattered Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 70°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather