Border se­cu­rity de­bate back on

House GOP lead­ers have re­opened ne­go­ti­a­tions over the fate of young un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants.

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Mike DeBo­nis and Se­ung Min Kim

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and House Re­pub­li­can lead­ers have re­opened ne­go­ti­a­tions over the fate of young un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants and border se­cu­rity, res­ur­rect­ing the po­lit­i­cally ex­plo­sive is­sue of im­mi­gra­tion that has stymied the GOP.

In a days-long upris­ing, GOP mod­er­ates fear­ful of con­tin­ued in­ac­tion ahead of the midterm elec­tions em­ployed a rarely used leg­isla­tive ma­neu­ver to force Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and White House of­fi­cials back to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble.

The over­all efforts on Thurs­day have fo­cused on a path to per­ma­nent res­i­dency for the hun­dreds of thou­sands of “Dream­ers” left in limbo af­ter Trump can­celed the pro­gram last year. Cru­cial to the dis­cus­sions are ways to con­struct the U.S.-Mex­ico border wall that Trump promised re­peat­edly in the 2016 campaign.

No sin­gle is­sue is more po­lit­i­cally fraught and vex­ing for Repub­li­cans than im­mi­gra­tion, and the lat­est flash point is ex­pos­ing the di­vi­sions. Trump cap­i­tal­ized on fears about im­mi­grants ex­ploit­ing the na­tion’s borders to win the pres­i­dency and a hard-line stance is the cor­ner­stone of his brand.

This week, the pres­i­dent clam­ored to tighten laws to keep “an­i­mal” gang mem­bers out of the coun­try, and he has threat­ened to spark a gov­ern­ment shut­down barely a month be­fore the elec­tion if the border wall isn’t funded.

“A vote for a Demo­crat in Novem­ber is a vote for open borders and crime,” he said at a rally last month in Michigan.

But tak­ing a vote on re­stric­tive im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies could hand po­lit­i­cal am­mu­ni­tion to ri­vals of many GOP in­cum­bents in swing dis­tricts whose suc­cess is crit­i­cal to re­tain­ing the party’s House ma­jor­ity.

Ryan, who has an­nounced plans to re­tire at the end of his term, said Thurs­day that his goal is leg­is­la­tion ac­cept­able to Trump, Repub­li­cans and some Democrats, a type of com­pro­mise that has been rare in the GOP-led House.

“The ques­tion is, could we have a bill that has a vast ma­jor­ity of Repub­li­cans that some Democrats would sup­port? What’s the com­bi­na­tion?” Ryan said

That’s a dilemma that Repub­li­cans had hoped they could avoid. In Feb­ru­ary, the Supreme Court moved to stay Trump’s can­cel­la­tion of the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals pro­gram, which shields more than a half-mil­lion young im­mi­grants from de­por­ta­tion. By re­mov­ing an im­mi­nent dead­line, that stalled an al­ready pre­car­i­ous ef­fort to pass a leg­isla­tive DACA fix.

But a group of rene­gade Re­pub­li­can mod­er­ates are un­will­ing to wait. Twenty have signed a “dis­charge” pe­ti­tion that would set up a se­ries of votes on com­pet­ing im­mi­gra­tion bills, in­clud­ing at least one that could pass with mostly Demo­cratic votes. With nearly ev­ery Demo­crat ex­pected to join the pe­ti­tion, that is enough Repub­li­cans to put it within arm’s reach of suc­cess.

Ryan and other Re­pub­li­can lead­ers have re­sponded by mount­ing a full-court press to block the ef­fort which cul­mi­nated Thurs­day in a new and fran­tic ef­fort to fash­ion a more con­ser­va­tive bill that could win the sup­port of most Repub­li­cans and po­ten­tially some Democrats.

“No one has iden­ti­fied that uni­corn yet,” said one se­nior Re­pub­li­can aide of the ef­fort to find a work­able com­pro­mise.

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