- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 10, 2019

Republican mavericks declared defeat Thursday on their attempt to cobble together an immigration grand bargain to end the government shutdown after neither the White House nor Democratic leaders leaped at the idea of trading wall money for citizenship rights for “Dreamers,” immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children.

President Trump said he doesn’t want to tackle the Dreamers issue until the Supreme Court rules on the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Washington’s top Democrat, tamped down talk of a DACA bargain.

That left Sen. Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who’d led talks among a group of Republicans, complaining of a “lack of a buy-in.”

“I have never been more depressed about moving forward than right now. I just don’t see a pathway forward,” Mr. Graham said. “I don’t know who to talk to and I don’t know what else to do.”

Hours later he pinned blame for the lack of action to end the shutdown on Mrs. Pelosi and urged Mr. Trump to tap emergency powers, declare the border in crisis and have the military build his wall.

It’s the latest stumble for a half-dozen Republicans who want to see a deal done for Dreamers.

The parameters of a deal they had been discussing would have included legal status for Dreamers and for perhaps 300,000 other immigrants who have been in the U.S. for years on what was supposed to be a temporary humanitarian parole while their home countries recovered from natural disasters.

In exchange, Mr. Graham and his deal-makers would have included the president’s current $5.7 billion request for border wall money.

Mr. Trump said he will eventually be ready for a broader deal on immigration, but doesn’t want to act until he sees what the Supreme Court does on its looming DACA case.

For her part, Mrs. Pelosi said “we haven’t had that discussion” when asked about a DACA-wall deal.

“What we’re talking about now is just the president’s insistence on a wall,” she said.

She said Dreamers should be taken care of as part of a broader bill to legalize most immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

House conservatives flatly rejected any DACA-wall deal, saying past bargains mixing security and amnesties ended up carrying out the amnesty and jilting the security.

“We have tried that before,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican.

He said conservatives’ focus now is on backing Mr. Trump in his request for wall money.

Immigrant-rights groups were divided, with some cheering on negotiations, saying money for a wall they see as ineffectual might be worth it in order to gain legal status for perhaps millions of immigrants. Others said they weren’t interested in any deal that granted Mr. Trump any cash for his wall proposal.

Faced with the headwinds, Sen. Susan Collins, Maine Republican, said the GOP group working on the deal had hit an impasse.

“It’s run into some difficulties,” she said. “It’s very difficult when we’re dealing with people who do not want to budge at all [in] their positions, and that’s the president and Speaker Pelosi.”

Mrs. Collins is one of several Republican senators who have said they could support re-opening parts of the government while broader negotiations on immigration progress.

She said she still wanted more time to digest the White House’s latest formal offer, which included not only $5.7 billion for the wall, but billions of dollars more for new ICE detention beds and border patrol agents, $800 million to improve medical treatment for immigrants in federal custody, and $675 million to add more scanning technology at the border crossings.

“That’s a pretty big difference, and would bring the amount to $12.7 billion,” she said. “I think we need more justification for that amount.”

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