Speaker Paul Ryan is impaneling an informal working group of moderate Republicans and immigration hard-liners to find a solution for so-called Dreamers that the House GOP conference can support.
The Wisconsin Republican has said he doesn’t want to punish the nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the country as minors by their parents, through no fault of their own. But he also believes that codification of former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which President Donald Trump will end in March, must include fortified border security and heightened immigration enforcement.
The panel will be tasked with coming up with solutions for all those issues that could be supported by a majority of the majority.
The creation of the new GOP working group comes as Trump takes heat from conservatives over a tentative immigration agreement struck with Democrats. Trump told Democratic leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday night that he would accept legislation patching DACA in exchange for new border fortifications — and that his border wall with Mexico need not be part of those discussions.
Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, who will also join the group, spent all Thursday downplaying that framework. They said Trump never agreed to any deal specifics and suggested that Democrats had tricked the president.
Sources close to leadership say House Republicans plan to ask Trump to push for the wall as part of any DACA fix. The group will, no doubt, discuss the matter and other provisions Republicans would need to continue legal status for Dreamers.
Membership on the new panel will comprise a diverse swath of the conference. Immigration hard-liners, including House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), will sit on the panel.
So, too, will more centrist members from Hispanic-populated districts who have followed immigration closely, including Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) and Will Hurd (R-Texas).
The chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), will also join the working group. So, too, will Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), who chairs the appropriations subcommittee on homeland security, and Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), another member of the Homeland Security Committee.