President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, has failed to impress members of his own party with his lackluster immigration plan.
According to The Washington Post, Kushner was unable to answer basic questions from Republican senators in attendance at his Tuesday meeting, leaving senior adviser Stephen Miller to guide most of the conversation.
“He’s in his own little world,” one individual familiar with the discussion in the meeting anonymously told the Post. “He didn’t give many details about what was in [his plan]. … And there were a number of instances where people had to step in and answer questions because he couldn’t.”
Perhaps most shocking, Kushner’s immigration plan makes no mention of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that Trump unilaterally ended in late 2017 and that has been hanging on by a thread thanks to a court injunction.
Approximately 700,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children — nicknamed Dreamers — have DACA, allowing them to work, study, and live in the United States without fear of deportation. Because of the court injunction, no new DACA applications are being accepted and there is currently no path to citizenship for DACA recipients trapped in this bureaucratic limbo.
Congressional Democrats have introduced a new and improved version of the Dream Act that would provide a path to citizenship for not only for Dreamers, but also for immigrants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), two temporary immigration programs that the Trump administration has at one point or another decided to end. According to the Center for American Progress, an estimated 2.5 million immigrants could be permanently protected under the Dream and Promise Act. Poll after poll has shown the Dream Act to be extremely popular, with over 80% of the American population supporting the legalization of Dreamers. (Editor’s Note: ThinkProgress is an editorially independent news site housed at the Center for American Progress.)
Omitting a DACA fix from any comprehensive immigration plan concerned Republicans who believe that it is impossible to get Democrats on board without it. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) told the Post that she is “concerned about the fate of the DACA young people, and they cannot be excluded from any immigration package.”
The Dream Act has historically received bipartisan support. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) was one of six Republican co-sponsors of the original bill, which was first introduced in the Senate over 18 years ago. The Trump administration’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, however, has pulled the party much further to the right and away from compromises like the Dream Act. By 2017, only three Republican senators supported the bill. In the House, only six Republicans out of the chamber’s 435 members co-sponsored the 2017 version of the Dream Act.
Kushner reportedly chose not to discuss DACA and Dreamers at the meeting because he wanted to focus on issues that would “bring people together.”
While Miller’s involvement in drafting immigration policy has been well-reported, there have been few details regarding what Kushner is pitching to party leaders. So far, reports suggest that Kushner is advocating for tougher border security and a “merit-based” immigration system that prioritizes “high-skilled” workers.
“Merit-based immigration” is highly coded language that usually means educated, white immigrants from wealthy countries and is meant to exclude immigrants from Central America and Africa who arrive at the border seeking asylum.
During a closed door meeting on TPS protections and merit based immigration last year, Trump reportedly said “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” referring to immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries.