Up next in the Senate: immigration – and nobody knows what will happen

By Ed O’keefe, The Washington Post

A long-anticipated showdown on immigration reform is coming this week – and nobody knows how it will turn out.

The Senate is set to begin debate Monday night on an issue that has vexed lawmakers for years, likely signaling whether the closely-divided chamber has any hope of striking a bipartisan compromise.

Among other challenges is whether Congress can find a way to protect “dreamers” – as a majority of Americans want for those young immigrants brought to the US. illegally as children – while also enacting changes in border security eagerly sought by President Donald Trump.

“We’re going to have something in the Senate that we haven’t had in a while,” Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “It’s a real debate on an issue where we really don’t know what the outcome is going to be.”

And few are saying much publicly about what they’re planning.

“There’s not a lot of deep planning that’s gone on,” said Frank Sharry, founder and executive director of America’s Voice, an immigration advocacy organization. “Everyone was focused on what was going on with the shutdown. I think it is going to have a helter-skelter quality to it.”

Even if the Senate is able to pass a bill, it’s far from certain that the House will move ahead with it. Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said last week that the House “will bring a solution to the floor, one the president will sign.”

What exactly Trump will support remains crucial yet unknown, as he has shown little willingness to accept anything short of the four-part plan he proposed last month.

In a weekend tweet, he reiterated support for “creating a safe, modern and lawful immigration system” that includes more border security, ending family-based legal migration and ending the diversity lottery program. He made no mention of his support for protecting 1.8 million dreamers, whose status was thrown into uncertainty when he canceled an Obama-era program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

“It’s time for Congress to act and to protect Americans,” Trump said in a video message released late Saturday. “Every member of Congress should choose the side of law enforcement and the side of the American people. That’s the way it has to be.”

Trump sparked the debate in September by announcing the end of DACA, which grants temporary legal status to roughly 690,000 dreamers. He has given lawmakers until March …read more

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