Trump’s DACA Trial Balloon Bursts Soon After Liftoff

Anadolu Agency/Anadolu

The cycle is getting shorter.

Before House Republicans had even learned the details of a new White House proposal for a three-year renewal of DACA paired with three years of border wall funding, the White House had already walked back the idea.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday afternoon that White House officials had been reaching out to Capitol Hill leaders to gauge their enthusiasm for the short-term deal, saying President Trump was on board with the plan despite his prior insistence that any immigration package include cuts to legal immigration. Just a few hours later, White House spokesperson Raj Shah said Trump does not support the short-term package and will only back a more comprehensive bill.

While the trail balloon was still aloft, several Republican lawmakers told TPM they would not be on board if such a provision was added to the upcoming budget omnibus.

“If we’re going to deal with DACA, let’s do it in a comprehensive way that actually deals with the problem, not just puts a temporary fix in,” Freedom Caucus chair Mark Meadows (R-NC) said, adding that House GOP leadership had already promised him that there would be nothing on DACA added to the omnibus. “I’m not in favor of punting. I’m in favor of getting it in the end zone.”

Meadows and several other lawmakers told TPM that the multiple injunctions on the Trump administration’s termination of DACA—which are effectively keeping the protections for young immigrants in place while the courts weigh the issue—have taken the pressure off of Congress to act.

“The fact is that we don’t have a March 5 deadline anymore,” he said, noting that the Supreme Court may not have the final say on DACA until June of 2019. “If people were facing deportation, maybe we would look at something short term. But we’ve got, really, until June of next year to deal with this in a thoughtful way, so why not do that instead of trying to do the short term?”

Rep. Mario Diaz Balart (R-FL) added that the court injunctions have been a mixed blessing—protecting the DACA recipients from losing their work permits and legal protections but bringing the immigration debate on Capitol Hill to a grinding halt. Rather than the “thoughtful” talks on a permanent fix Meadows hoped for, Diaz Balart is hearing no discussions at all.

“While I’m happy that the DACA folks have a bit of a breathing space, the flip-side of that is that people have less incentive to risk it, to do real negotiations,” he said. “That pressure is gone and we only work with pressure and deadlines. So I’m relieved for the DACA folks, but it hasn’t been helpful in that sense. We need to find a longterm solution, but the momentum is gone.”

Several GOP lawmakers, including Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), told TPM that—at least while there’s a court injunction—passing a short-term fix would be worse than passing nothing at all.

“The temporary timeline is one of the greatest cruelties,” he said. “If you’re trying to help people plan their futures and plan their lives, let’s come up with a permanent solution.”

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