UPDATE: As Politico reports in a separate story, Congressional Republicans really have no idea what to do next:
House Republican leaders, already scrambling to avoid a government shutdown and a default on the nation’s debt, are privately hoping to push the immigration battle until at least this winter. [Pols emphasis] They, like the White House, want a down payment on Trump’s border wall with Mexico in exchange for codifying the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — though House Democrats won’t say whether they’d accept tougher immigration restrictions in order to save the program…
…Multiple pro-DACA House and Senate sources have speculated that a legislative fix for “Dreamers” could pass the House with moderate Republicans and Democratic support. But Ryan would take serious heat from conservatives if he were to allow that without getting anything in return.
That’s why Republican leaders, working with the White House, will likely seek a narrow immigration deal that would extend the program while adopting some of Trump’s signature campaign promises on immigration.
Politico reports on today’s announcement via Attorney General Jeff Sessions that President Donald Trump’s administration will indeed end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, putting hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who came here as children at risk of deportation:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s administration is rescinding an Obama-era policy that provided work permits to undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as children, with a six-month wind-down period that allows Congress to act on the issue first.
“I’m here today to announce that the program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama administration is being rescinded,” Sessions told reporters, adding that the Justice Department has advised Trump and the Department of Homeland Security to “begin an orderly, lawful wind-down, including the cancellation of the memo that authorized this program.”
“This will enable DHS to conduct an orderly change and fulfill the desire of this administration to create a time period for Congress to act — should it so choose. We firmly believe this is the responsible path,” Sessions said, encouraging lawmakers to “carefully and thoughtfully” pursue immigration reform.
Other than the above comment about Congress acting “should it so choose,” there was little in today’s announcement from Sessions to comfort DACA beneficiaries and their supporters. Sessions in particular validated incendiary right-wing tropes about DREAMer kids “taking jobs” from Americans, for which evidence is dubious at best. Such comments don’t inspire confidence that a legislative solution protecting DACA recipients would be signed into law.
Certainly not if possible Colorado GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo has anything to say about it, as he writes at Breitbart today:
By ending the government’s issuance of new DACA work permits but not canceling them immediately, the president is generously allowing them to expire over the next two years. Thus, Congress can “save DACA” by enacting amendments to current immigration law. But, as the saying goes, the devil is in the details, and — surprise! — there is no consensus among Republicans on what “saving DACA” means or how to do it. The Republican lawmakers who want to give legal status to the 780,000 current beneficiaries of DACA will be at war with others who want to use their fate as the excuse to pass a much broader amnesty affecting millions.
The noxious flavor of the Republican dilemma is illustrated by the political gymnastics of Republican Congressman Michael Coffman of Colorado. Coffman is so desirous of maintaining his “amnesty panderer in chief” status that he says he is going to offer a bill to order President Trump to continue the unlawful Obama program. More astonishing, Coffman is so desperate to save DACA that he has begun threatening to file a discharge petition — which needs 218 signatures — to force his bill out of committee and bring it to a vote on the House floor. Of course, this is just for optics. Discharge petitions rarely succeed and he knows it. Doesn’t matter. He thinks it plays well with the people for whom he is so desperate to prostitute himself and the Republican party.
Herein lies the dilemma faced by not just Rep. Mike Coffman, but any Republican who wants to help save the GOP from major political damage over the issue of protecting DREAMer child immigrants: there’s no consensus in the Republican Party to do that. As we noted this weekend, any attempt to resolve the issue is going to require Republicans to abandon the informal “Hastert Rule” requiring bills to have the support of the “majority of the majority” because there aren’t enough Republicans willing to agree DREAMers deserve protection at all.
A lot of them are in Tom Tancredo’s camp. Including, apparently, Jeff Sessions.
Sen. Cory Gardner paid lip service to protecting DACA recipients in his statement today, though not without playing the blame game:
I’m currently working with my colleagues in Congress about the next legislative steps we can take to ensure these children continue to have the opportunity to be in this country. We are in this situation today because the program was created through executive action by the previous administration instead of through Congress…
In attempting to lay blame for the current situation at the feet of the Obama administration, Gardner deliberately ignores the 2013 immigration reform legislation that passed the U.S. Senate before dying in the chamber he served in–and the more general refusal by the Republican Congress under President Obama to do anything that might be considered good for Obama’s legacy. Blaming Obama for GOP obstruction is of course nothing new for Gardner, though at this point it’s a laughably threadbare point.
Because Democrats aren’t anyone’s problem now. This is about Republicans choosing what their legacy will be.