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Democrats Holding to 'Limits of Compromise' on DACA Talks, Says Senator

A woman is arrested by Capitol Police after participating in an act of civil disobedience in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, in the Russell Rotunda on Feb. 7, 2018, on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

With the March 5 deadline for Congress to save DREAMers looming, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) declared that “the limits of compromise are there” on what Dems will give up for the Deferred Action for the Childhood Arrivals program “because, basically, we’re talking about fundamental core American values.”

President Trump tweeted this morning: “Negotiations on DACA have begun. Republicans want to make a deal and Democrats say they want to make a deal. Wouldn’t it be great if we could finally, after so many years, solve the DACA puzzle. This will be our last chance, there will never be another opportunity! March 5th.”

Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday that “speaking for the Republican Party, we would love to do DACA.”

“We would love to get it done. We want border security and the other elements that you know about. Chain migration, you know about. The visa lottery, you know about,” he said. “But we think there’s a good chance of getting DACA done if the Democrats are serious and they actually want to do it.”

Blumenthal told CNN this morning that the president’s proposal to end family reunification for all but spouses and minor children was a non-starter as senators negotiate to save some 800,000 DACA beneficiaries from “mass draconian deportation,” but they are willing to give some extra bucks for border security.

“We cannot make the DREAMers a blank check for a nativist, far-right fringe agenda, so we are willing to compromise,” he said. “…The only way to do a deal is, narrowly and simply, to provide permanent status for the DREAMers and a path to citizenship combined with border security. We’re talking about surveillance and sensors, better training for the border agents, more of them, and strengthening the fences and the physical barriers where it will do some good. Not a wall from sea to shining sea.”

Using his father, an immigrant fleeing Germany in 1935, as an example, Blumenthal said that family reunification “is part of the American ideal.”

“It’s the immigrants’ story and we all know it. It’s part of our lives. And betraying that fundamental American value is something that we cannot tolerate,” he added.

The senator said limiting the bill to a narrow focus on DREAMers can “muster [a] sufficient majority here to provide momentum going into the House of Representatives,” though Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) hasn’t committed to a DACA debate and vote as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has.

“If it takes some compromise on border security, a few more dollars for sensors and surveillance and fences,” Blumenthal said, Dems are willing to do that.

McConnell said on the Senate floor this morning that “there is no reason why we should not reach a bipartisan solution this week.”

“Yesterday, a number of my colleagues announced a reasonable proposal that I believe is our best chance to make law. It attends to my Democratic colleagues’ stated top priority: a compassionate solution for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. In exchange, it also delivers on the president’s stated conditions. Their solution provides funding to secure the border, reforms extended family chain migration, and recalibrates the visa lottery program,” he said.

That proposal mirrors Trump’s demands, and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) told Fox this morning that it’s “not an opening bid for negotiations” but “a best and final offer.”

“This proposal has my support. And during this week of fair debate, I believe it deserves the support of every senator who is ready to move beyond making points and make law,” McConnell said. “But if other proposals are to be considered, our colleagues will have to actually introduce their own amendments, rather than just talk about them. I made a commitment to hold this debate, and to hold it this week. I have lived up to my commitment. I hope everyone will cooperate so this opportunity does not go to waste.”