Why Reaching A DACA Deal Could Be Tough Reaching an agreement on a DACA fix is only half the battle. The House and Senate would then have to approve it — and that could be tough, given how entrenched both parties' bases are on immigration issues.

Why Reaching A DACA Deal Could Be Tough

Why Reaching A DACA Deal Could Be Tough

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Reaching an agreement on a DACA fix is only half the battle. The House and Senate would then have to approve it — and that could be tough, given how entrenched both parties' bases are on immigration issues.


Ever since President Trump opened up DACA negotiations to the news media for an hour - that happened on Tuesday - senators have been meeting in private, trying to close the deal. Arizona Republican Jeff Flake told reporters today it has happened.


JEFF FLAKE: We're at a deal, and so we'll be talking to the White House about that. And I hope we can move forward with it.

MCEVERS: But there's still a lot more that needs to happen before a DACA fix becomes reality. And just a reminder - DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. That's the program that protects young people in the country who were brought to the U.S. as children. Next step - the senators need to convince President Trump to back the plan. And as NPR congressional correspondent Scott Detrow reports, there's also the hard work of selling a bill to the lawmakers who will need to vote on it.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: The three Democrats and three Republicans who have been hashing out a DACA agreement say they've got a compromise that deals with border security, with the people currently protected by DACA and changes to the legal immigration process that President Trump has called for. Here's South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham.


LINDSEY GRAHAM: We had a meeting, and I will tell you that I'm hopeful that that meeting will maybe lead to a breakthrough and we get something done.

DETROW: Now they say they're working on building support for the deal in Congress. That's probably going to be hard. Most members of both parties are against kicking out as many as 800,000 people in the country illegally who came here as children. After that, priorities change. You have Democrats like Representative Joaquin Castro of Texas on one side...

JOAQUIN CASTRO: We shouldn't trade the lives of 800,000 young people - young DREAMers for a wall across the United States of America.

DETROW: ...And Republicans like Pennsylvania Congressman Lou Barletta on the other.

LOU BARLETTA: We need to make sure that we're not going to have another 800,000 or million people coming into the country. So we need to make sure we secure the borders.

DETROW: Of course the bill doesn't have to pass unanimously. It just needs a majority in the House and Senate. But Republicans control both chambers, and many want to see big crackdowns on illegal immigration. Some want big reductions in legal immigration, too. As the negotiations progressed, Virginia Republican Bob Goodlatte introduced his own version of a DACA fix.


BOB GOODLATTE: It cracks down on sanctuary cities, increases criminal penalties for deported criminals who illegally return and makes the E-Verify program mandatory.

DETROW: Goodlatte's bill is not part of the negotiations that congressional leaders are engaged in, but it represents what many House Republicans want to see and likely goes way further than the draft Senate bill. So if a DACA fix is going to pass, it may happen in a very rare circumstance where most of the votes in the House come from the minority party, the Democrats, which means Democratic leaders are going to have to round up votes from members who oppose Trump's border wall and many of the proposed changes to the legal immigration process. Sanaa Abrar manages policy and advocacy for United We Dream, one of the main outside groups advocating for a permanent DACA fix. She resents the current political dynamic.

SANAA ABRAR: It is completely unfair and honestly immoral to use the lives of DACA recipients and undocumented youth as bargaining chips for these anti-immigrant priorities.

DETROW: But Abrar concedes that with Republicans controlling the House, Senate and White House, they are the ones dictating the terms.

ABRAR: And we have to ultimately deal with whatever they're throwing at us and be careful to respond to whatever it is.

DETROW: Abrar is waiting to see the final details. She says one deal-breaker that could cause United We Dream to oppose the measure would be overly punitive punishments for the parents who brought their children into the country illegally. Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin has been trying to pass the DREAM Act for more than a decade. He's played a key role in the latest round of negotiations. Durbin is blunt. He says he doesn't love making all the tradeoffs Republicans are demanding.

DICK DURBIN: I am doing my best to get everything I can under the current political circumstances. It's not what I want. It's what I'm forced to accept because of the realities.

DETROW: Whether other Democrats in Congress are willing to make that concession and, just as importantly, whether Democratic voters are, too, will likely be a key factor in whether or not a DACA fix becomes law. Scott Detrow, NPR News.

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