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As government shutdown deadline approaches, Congress debates compromise on immigration


President Trump listens during a meeting with legislators on immigration reform in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Jan. 9, in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of Tribune News Service Buy Photos

Congress is working to pass a spending bill by the end of next week with one topic sitting at the forefront of the debate. 

Democrats and Republicans have deliberated a compromise on immigration reform for months, with the conflict primarily focusing on President Trump's demand for border wall funding. The bargaining chip on the table is a legislative fix of the fate of so-called "DREAMers."

The term refers to people who were brought to the United States as children and were protected from deportation under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.

When the program was rescinded by the Trump administration last fall, the president gave Congress until March to provide a legislative remedy to DACA recipients' status. Congressional Republicans have indicated they would be unwilling to tie a DACA fix to any spending bill.

Passing standalone legislation protecting immigrants covered under the former policy would prove difficult in a Republican-dominated House and Senate, despite some GOP legislators such as Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, showing interest in providing protections for the once-covered group of immigrants.

The president met with legislators from both parties on Tuesday at the White House to discuss and negotiate on immigration.  

Some legislators have expressed optimism about a compromise, but other advocates of legislative action to protect DACA recipients have indicated that one involving border wall spending might not receive support from some Democrats. Texas Rep. JoaquĆ­n Castro, D-20th District, in a Sunday interview on MSNBC, indicated this could be the case, citing public support for a DACA fix and opposition to the wall in his home state.

Jesse Naranjo

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