Graham: 'Increasingly pessimistic on immigration'

One of the strongest advocates for a deal on ...

Posted: Feb 7, 2018 8:42 AM
Updated: Feb 7, 2018 8:42 AM

One of the strongest advocates for a deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy in the Senate says he is "increasingly pessimistic" that Congress will pass a fix beyond a short-term "punt."

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham told reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, leaving a meeting of the Republican conference, that he now believes only a one- or two-year extension of the DACA program, which protects young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children, is likely.

The dire prediction came from a longtime advocate of immigration reform who has been one of the strongest supporters of getting a permanent solution to DACA -- and who had a confrontation with President Donald Trump about vulgar comments the President made in rejecting a bipartisan compromise Graham negotiated.

"I'm becoming increasingly pessimistic about immigration," Graham said. "I don't think we're going to do a whole lot beyond something like the BRIDGE Act, which would be extend DACA for a year or two, and some border security. It's just too many moving parts."

Graham's comments came before said on Tuesday he supports a government shutdown if Democrats won't agree to tighten immigration laws, undercutting ongoing bipartisan negotiations on Capitol Hill.

Graham, who has also been a part of bipartisan Senate meetings that are seeking a compromise and who helped convince Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to promise to bring immigration to the floor in a "fair" process next week, called that option unsatisfactory but likely.

"That will be a punt, that will not be winning for the country, but that's most likely where we're going to go," Graham said.

He also took a jab at some colleagues who have said that any deal must be done in stages to avoid comprehensive immigration reform, a common refrain from Republicans across the spectrum.

"Comprehensive is hard -- the only thing harder than comprehensive is doing it in smaller steps," Graham said. "So, all those who criticize comprehensive immigration, saying we should do it in smaller stages: This is what you run into."

Graham also said that while he supports much of what the White House has proposed -- pieces of the offer like substantially cutting family-based migration, or what some Republicans call "chain migration," and ending the diversity lottery are a tough sell without legalizing all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US. He also accused some of his Democratic colleagues of having "unreasonable" demands.

Graham's comments were backed up by his close ally on immigration, Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who said private meetings on Monday also left him pessimistic that a deal could be reached.

"Yesterday, yeah, we took a few steps back I think," Flake said when asked by CNN about Graham's prediction. "Just people insisting that we include too much."

Flake said in "a few of the meetings" there was support for putting a bill like the White House proposal on the floor for a vote -- which Flake said likely couldn't get 60 votes to advance. Flake said he only believes a DACA and border security deal can pass.

"If you start adding in all the other things, it's going to be too big," Flake said. But he added: "I don't know, you're pessimistic one day, optimistic the next. Yesterday we were pessimistic, hopefully today we'll feel differently."

The impasse leaves Graham believing a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients can't pass Congress because the White House wants more on that than the Senate can give.

"You're not going to give a pathway to citizenship unless you give the things the President wants. ... The chain migration and the visa lottery are going to are the problem areas," Graham said. He added he wasn't telling the White House to back off, necessarily, but that the "likelihood" of that getting enough votes to advance legislation in the Senate on that is "pretty small."

While lawmakers have been talking for some time about a potential one-year fallback position, not all of them are on board.

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins said the Senate shouldn't go that route.

"I think it would be a huge mistake to just have a short-term extension of the DACA program because then we're just going to be fighting the same old battles when it expires ... and it keeps the cloud of doubt and fear over the DACA young adults, and I don't think that's a good situation," Collins said. "We have all the ability in the world to come up with a solution. I think the Senate ought to legislate in that area.".

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 145636

Reported Deaths: 3745
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto963299
Hinds9584195
Harrison6848109
Jackson6124118
Rankin528598
Lee484295
Madison4633105
Forrest368186
Jones345287
Lauderdale3350143
Lafayette315049
Washington3097107
Lamar281849
Oktibbeha239261
Bolivar239083
Lowndes228863
Neshoba2164115
Panola211749
Marshall208350
Leflore200890
Pontotoc194728
Monroe190277
Sunflower189755
Lincoln186165
Warren172257
Tate164251
Union160925
Pike160458
Copiah158940
Yazoo151239
Scott150229
Itawamba147634
Coahoma147443
Pearl River144467
Simpson144253
Alcorn143925
Prentiss140429
Grenada136945
Adams136548
Leake131843
Holmes124961
George122224
Tippah121530
Covington117636
Winston116624
Wayne115823
Hancock114139
Marion111046
Attala107833
Tishomingo106142
Newton102729
Chickasaw102432
Tallahatchie95527
Clarke88553
Clay87027
Jasper81122
Walthall75028
Stone72414
Montgomery71925
Calhoun71613
Carroll70614
Lawrence70214
Yalobusha69427
Noxubee69217
Smith68816
Perry65225
Tunica59619
Greene58422
Claiborne57416
Jefferson Davis54217
Humphreys52618
Amite51214
Benton48417
Quitman4796
Webster42014
Kemper40917
Wilkinson38622
Jefferson33811
Franklin3235
Choctaw3077
Sharkey30617
Issaquena1114
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 236865

Reported Deaths: 3472
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson31043491
Mobile19446360
Tuscaloosa12684150
Madison12528146
Montgomery12122235
Shelby992276
Baldwin837684
Lee759765
Morgan626247
Calhoun6049113
Etowah600564
Marshall596153
Houston510838
DeKalb469635
Cullman421136
Limestone408844
St. Clair403955
Elmore398961
Lauderdale387253
Walker356199
Talladega339044
Jackson302524
Colbert297641
Blount282236
Autauga266139
Franklin246233
Coffee236615
Dale228454
Dallas222331
Russell21923
Chilton218537
Covington215933
Escambia196931
Tallapoosa171790
Chambers171448
Pike156014
Clarke155319
Marion135535
Winston126623
Lawrence123936
Geneva11848
Pickens117618
Marengo117424
Barbour116710
Bibb115717
Butler114341
Randolph100321
Cherokee99624
Hale93231
Washington89918
Clay89623
Fayette86216
Henry8436
Lowndes78929
Monroe77911
Cleburne75614
Macon71720
Crenshaw70330
Bullock69019
Conecuh68214
Perry6726
Lamar6337
Wilcox62818
Sumter56222
Choctaw41813
Greene41317
Coosa3144
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