Both Sides Gear up for Political Fight as Trump Prepares to End Immigration Protections for ‘Dreamers’

Lawmakers and advocates on both sides began to stake out positions Monday for an extended public fight over whether Congress should provide legal status to young undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers” as President Trump is preparing to rescind Obama-era protections for them.

Moderate congressional Republicans, and even some conservatives, suggested that they are open to crafting a legislative deal that could offer permanent legal status to hundreds of thousands of immigrants who have been in the country illegally since they were children. Democrats lambasted Trump for his expected decision and called on the GOP to join them to protect the dreamers.

Urgency on Capitol Hill has mounted amid reports that Trump will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has allowed nearly 800,000 people to live and work in the United States without fear of deportation. Trump, who is scheduled to announce his decision Tuesday, is leaning toward terminating the program but delaying enforcement for six months to give lawmakers time to find a solution, according to people briefed on the White House’s deliberations.

Trump faces a Tuesday deadline from Texas and several other states that have vowed to sue the administration over DACA if the president does not terminate it. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an immigration hawk, has suggested that the Justice Department would not be able to defend the program’s constitutionality in court and has lobbied Trump to end it. Other top advisers, including Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, have pushed him to maintain the program until lawmakers act.

Yet the odds that a sharply polarized Congress could strike a deal — steep in the best of times — are considered especially difficult at a time when lawmakers face a busy fall agenda. Congress is under pressure to raise the federal debt limit, pass a spending bill and approve a defense authorization bill, at a time when Republicans also hope to consider a tax plan and potentially try once again to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

By David Nakamura for THE WASHINGTON POST
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