Immigration Stalemate Looms Before Talks Even Begin

Senate Republicans are holding high-level meetings with President Donald Trump on an immigration reform bill. House Democrats are crafting their own plan to protect Dreamers. And the administration has formally requested billions in emergency aid to address the surge of migrants at the border.

But the apparent movement is something of a mirage. There’s little hope in the Capitol of any big deal before the next election — still 18 months away — even amid broad agreement that humanitarian needs are only increasing by the day.

“It’s the same old story, isn’t it?” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). “It’ll break your heart. We never quite get to the finish line.”

“No indication” this time will be different, said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who is often on the opposite side of the debate from Cornyn. “If they’re trying to move something with Central America and the current situation we face, it’s not a quick undertaking. This is not an easy fix.”

While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared a month ago that he wanted to work with Democrats on immigration, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said McConnell hasn’t raised it with him once. A Republican aide said meanwhile that Democrats have made no outreach to McConnell on legislation that can pass both chambers and be signed into law. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and McConnell have yet to discuss immigration.

When the issue briefly came up in Trump’s meeting with the Democratic leaders last week, they quickly stalemated, with Trump calling the border “a disaster” and Pelosi countering that comprehensive reform was needed, according to an aide.

By Burgess Everett and Heather Caygle for POLITICO

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