Amid an ongoing immigration debate in the Senate, Rep. Joe Kennedy III says he’d be willing to concede funding a border wall with Mexico, as long as a bipartisan deal is reached on DACA.
“A deal does not mean that you get everything that you want and concede nothing, that’s not the way deals work, certainly not in the legislative process,” Kennedy said in an interview with Boston Public Radio Wednesday. “If that is the primary need from our conservative colleagues here in the White House, yes, I could see a way where there is funding for border security measures, and potentially including the construction of a physical barrier.”
Democrats were hesitant to acquiesce to Trump’s longtime campaign promise of a wall along the border with Mexico, but as of January, Democratic leaders have changed their tune.
In a floor speech last month, Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said a deal that exchanged a legal path for DACA recipients with funding for a border wall was placed in front of the president.
“During the meeting, in exchange for strong [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] protections, I reluctantly put the border wall on the table for the discussion,” Schumer said. “Even that was not enough to entice the president to finish the deal.”
In September, Trump said he’d phase out the DACA program, which allows some people who came to the U.S. as children to stay here, by an increasingly murky March 5 deadline. Trump has also said he would sign a legislative fix for DACA if Congress can craft one in time.
“What they’re really doing is holding DACA recipients hostage in exchange for a complete overhaul for an immigration system in a way that the majority of the country doesn’t want, and then saying we’re not willing to play ball,” Kennedy said. “That’s not the way this process is supposed to work, that’s not the way this does work.”
As the Senate picks up the debate this week, Kennedy called on House Speaker Paul Ryan to approve bipartisan legislation. According to Kennedy, as many as 27 Republicans signed on to vote for a bipartisan bill that would protect DACA recipients from deportation while implementing enhanced border security measures.
"That’s enough to make that bill pass, and we can’t get a vote on it,” Kennedy said. “The concern I’ve got is, I do hope that something comes out of the Senate; we then need Speaker Ryan to be willing to put that bill on the floor, something that he has not committed to do.”
Congress is in recess, according to Kennedy, all of next week, and will have very little time to meet and create a bipartisan resolution.