White House Attempts to Rally GOP Senators on a Unifying Immigration Message

Trump advisers Stephen Miller and Jared Kushner briefed Senate Republicans Tuesday on the broad outlines of an immigration plan.

WASHINGTON — Seeking to rally Republicans around a unified message on immigration ahead of the 2020 election, White House advisers Stephen Miller and Jared Kushner visited Capitol Hill Tuesday to brief Senate Republicans about the broad outlines of an immigration plan the two have drafted.

While details were sparse, the plan encompasses conservative ideas on border security and asylum seekers with some new proposals on legal legal immigration, according to senators who spoke after a weekly lunch where the briefing was given.

The new push comes as President Donald Trump, who built his 2016 candidacy on immigration and a promise to build a wall along the southern border, has struggled to obtain concrete results of his hard-line immigration policies in the first two-plus years of his presidency.

Immigration has dogged Congress for two decades, leaving some lawmakers skeptical that any plan offered by the administration could ever pass.

Still, some of the GOP senators said the plan is aimed more at rallying the party ahead of the 2020 election, not at gaining the support any legislation would need to pass the Democratic-controlled House.

“I don’t think it’s designed to get Democratic support as much as it is to unify the Republican Party around border security,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said after the lunch.

The president and 18 Senate Republicans are running for re-election and those on the ballot are anxious to come up with an immigration policy they can coalesce behind in 2020.

The president has successfully made immigration central to his political identify. He ran his first presidential campaign on building a wall, paid for by Mexico. He implemented family separation at the border, rolled back parameters for asylum seekers and in the days leading up to the 2018 election, he elevated the caravan of Central Americans approaching the border.

He has a loyal following that supports his positions.

But he has had few policy successes. The wall has not been built and illegal immigration is increasing as the backlog of immigrants at the border increases. Additionally, a host of other immigration issues have gone unresolved, including the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States and the DACA recipients who are now living in legal limbo.

By Leigh Ann Caldwell for NBC NEWS

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