Republican senators who met with White House officials Tuesday say President Donald Trump is set to give a major immigration speech within the coming days.
“The president is going to be giving a speech on it maybe as early as later this week,” Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said to the Washington Examiner following a closed-door meeting with top White House advisers. “So I’ll be interested to see how he rolls this out.”
Vice President Mike Pence and senior advisers Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller briefed the select group of Republican lawmakers, who met for lunch at the Capitol, on the White House’s upcoming immigration plan. The president’s son-in-law has been working on a reform package that would shift the U.S. immigration system to a more merit-based system.
The White House has not released details of the plan. However, Kushner’s plan has been described as a two-pronged approach to immigration reform.
The first part of the plan tackles legal immigration by limiting low-skilled migrants who enter the country based on family ties and replacing them high-skilled workers instead. The number of migrants entering the U.S., the administration says, would be left roughly unchanged. The second part of the proposal pertains to border security, with the White House aiming to beef it up — including more walls and updated ports of entry.
“They had broad outlines of a plan,” said West Virginia GOP Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, who also attended the Tuesday meeting. “There were sort of six buckets. It had to do with employment, security and humanitarian.”
Immigration reform has historically been difficult to pass in Washington and it remains uncertain if such a plan can make it past the Republican Senate and Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. This thought was not lost on Republican lawmakers.
“I don’t think it’s designed to get Democratic support as much as it is to unify the Republican Party around border security,” South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said of the proposal, arguing the bill would unite conservatives around a merit-based system and border security.
Graham believes, once the GOP coalesces around the plan, they would be in a position to negotiate with Democrats on how to move forward with the millions of illegals already living in the U.S. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), for example, has been suggested as a possible bargaining tool.