Sen. Thune on Immigration Reform: DACA, Border Security ‘May Be the Best We Can Hope For’

Republican Conference
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

House and Senate Republican conference leaders held a joint press conference at their annual retreat in West Virginia on Thursday and were asked about a wide range of issues, including immigration.

President Donald Trump has proposed a plan with what he calls four pillars: amnesty for millions of illegal aliens, an end to chain migration and the lottery VISA system, and increased border security. It also involves an eventual pathway to citizenship.

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (R-SD) told reporters “if we can solve DACA and border security, that may be the best we can hope for.”

CBS reported that Thune also said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “has indicated his interest in moving forward with debate on immigration in the Senate.”

House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) said at the press conference that lawmakers should cooperate to do what’s needed for a “safe, strong and proud America.”

But House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) called legislation that deals only with DACA — the Obama-era program that protects some illegal aliens from deportation — and border security is a “non-starter” in the House, NPR reported.

“Sen. Thune represents a state that is a long ways from the southern border, and so making a suggestion that a two-pillar answer is going to get support in the House is a non-starter,” Meadows said.

Speaking at the conference on Thursday the president called his immigration framework “fair” and “generous” and that now it is up to Democrats to come to the table.

“They talk a good game with DACA, but they don’t produce,” Trump said.

The GOP’s annual conference is being held to set their agenda for 2018. The first item on the “to do” may be the budget. The temporary Continuing Resolution funding the government expires on February 8.

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