GOP consensus on immigration? Is it possible?

  • GOP consensus on immigration? Is it possible?

GOP consensus on immigration? Is it possible?

The letter came shortly before House conservatives, moderates and leaders met Thursday to negotiate a possible solution, and as a faction of Republicans supporting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program teamed up with Democrats on a petition that would force House votes on the issue.

On Thursday, Speaker Paul Ryan called that petition "pointless", but reiterated that progress is being made.

Rep. Glenn Thompson, Rep. Steve Womack, and Rep. Tom MacArthur walk to a closed-door GOP meeting on immigration in the basement of the Capitol in Washington, June 7, 2018. Another member of that group, Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., said a proposal has been discussed but cautioned that there are "tons of moving pieces to it".

Leaders want to "work with our members to get things done and avoid a discharge petition", Ryan said of the seldom-used process that centrists are applying to try to force the votes.

A number of Republicans said they will hold off on signing a petition that would force Democrats' preferred alternative onto the floor and instead will give Republican leaders until early next week to write a bill that can bridge the deep divides within their party.

Another email inquiry came from a woman named Linda who asked, "Wondering how, why and when many of us that were in John Pinches (old) district got booted to District 2". "There was consensus that we have to find an agreement", he said.

Rank-and-file Republicans said they are still focused on President Trump's four pillars of combining a significant amnesty for almost 2 million illegal immigrants with stiffer border security and faster deportations, curtailing the chain of family migration, and ending the visa lottery that doles out immigration passes by chance.

He said the conservatives' proposal involves a merit system, but said he was unfamiliar with its details. President Donald Trump rescinded the program a year ago but it is still operating under court order, putting Dreamers in a precarious situation. Around another 1 million immigrants are thought to have qualified for that program but not applied, by some estimates.

"This was their offer to us and it's something we can agree to but not until we see it on paper", Denham said.

House Republicans have left a private meeting on immigration without an agreement between conservatives and moderates on the divisive issue. Denham said a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus put an offer on the table that the moderates accepted.

It will set the scene for November's mid-term elections, in which Democrats hope to wrestle control of Congress from Trump's Republican party. Ryan said that is "the most optimistic, plausible chance of getting (a bill) into law". He's demanded that any immigration legislation include funding to begin building a wall on the border with Mexico and restrictions on legal immigration that have been rejected by Democrats. In addition, the conservatives want to end a lottery that grants visas to countries with few immigrants to the US and curb the relatives who can be brought over by immigrants, Walker said. There are now several holdouts waiting for a compromise that could negate joining the discharge, though moderate Republicans are confident that they will have enough signees if push comes to shove.

The vote would help determine the fate of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the children. "Do you create a merit-based pathway that doesn't now exist or do you somehow put them in line with some of the pathways that already exists?" He's been hosting discussions between moderates and conservatives to hammer out a compromise, but so far the two camps remain at odds, mainly over the question of citizenship for DREAMers.

"To think that somehow moderates, centrist Democrats, are going to move over and vote for a Trump supporter because they're paying some extra money at the pump completely fails to grasp what is happening in this country and this state", Madrid said.

The leaders of the effort that has been triggering weeks of intense negotiations - a procedural maneuver that would force immigration to the floor and bypass party leadership - said that conservatives had put forward a proposal to them that would include a "bridge" for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and those like them to eventually gain citizenship, which has been the most hard part of negotiations to date.

- Alan Fram and Lisa Mascaro, Associated Press; Andrew Taylor, Kevin Freking and Padmananda Rama contributed.