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As government shutdown deadline approaches, Congress debates compromise on immigration



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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. 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When the program was rescinded by the Trump administration last fall, the president gave Congress until March to provide a legislative remedy to DACA recipients' status.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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