WASHINGTON — The morning after President Trump told reporters he’s open to a path for citizenship for DREAMers, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) lamented the difficulty of nailing down an immigration deal with the administration’s “wildly unpredictable” swings on the issue.
“Over a period of 10 to 12 years, somebody does a great job, they work hard — that gives incentive to do a great job,” Trump said in a surprise Q&A Wednesday evening, explaining how those brought to the country illegally as children could “morph” into citizens. “Whatever they’re doing, if they do a great job, I think it’s a nice thing to have the incentive of, after a period of years, being able to become a citizen.”
In a press conference last February, Trump vowed to “show great heart” with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals beneficiaries. “DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me, I will tell you. To me, it’s one of the most difficult subjects I have, because you have these incredible kids, in many cases.”
The White House said earlier on Wednesday that the administration would release Monday “a compromise that members of both parties can support.”
“This framework will fulfill the four agreed-upon pillars: securing the border and closing legal loopholes; ending extended-family chain migration; cancelling the visa lottery, and providing a permanent solution on DACA,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
Asked in the press briefing if that framework included a path to citizenship, Sanders replied, “Well, if I told you now, it would kind of take away the fun for Monday.”
On the Senate floor today, Schumer said that the “bipartisan group of moderate Senators should continue trying to find a consensus.”
“The White House has proven unreliable and wildly unpredictable. Within the course of hours they say different things. Every time the president moves forward on one thing, his staff pulls him back and undoes what he said. The action should be here in the Senate to find a narrow deal on DACA and border security,” he added.
“As we’ve found time and time again, when we open up the negotiations to discussions of broad immigration reform, there is no end to what each party says could be on the table. Republicans want vast curtailment of legal immigration, Democrats want to discuss a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million. That’s a recipe for delay when we can’t afford one. Some on the other side are insisting on expanding this beyond the DACA and border security issues. That will just delay. That will just make sure that things won’t work.”
Schumer said Republicans should feel the pressure to get a DACA fix done “or else this administration will start separating families, taking kids out of school, service members out of our military, workers out of our companies.”
“They will rip them from the American fabric in which they’re embedded. What a tragedy that would be,” he said. “So, the clock is ticking on Dreamers and we don’t have time for extraneous issues that some on the right or the left might want to add that have nothing to do with DACA or border security.”
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor that “a bipartisan, bicameral group including Senators Cornyn and Durbin is hard at work on immigration,” and he also looks forward to the White House framework.
McConnell noted the deal to end the shutdown in which he vowed that “as long as the government remains open” after the Feb. 8 budget deadline, “the Senate will proceed to a variety of priorities on the subject of immigration – including border security, the DACA issue, and other aspects of immigration policy.”
“The bill I choose to introduce for debate will have an amendment process that will ensure a level playing field at the outset,” he said. “The amendment process will be fair to all sides, allowing members to offer their own legislation for consideration and votes. While I obviously cannot guarantee any outcomes, let alone supermajority support, I can ensure the process is fair to all sides.”