House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows told reporters Tuesday a Trump administration official asked his caucus to put together a conservative immigration plan that would provide a legislative solution to replace to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“Administration officials don’t want to be caught flat footed with no proposals,” the North Carolina Republican said. “On the debt ceiling there were no conservative solutions. ... And it’s incumbent upon us to put some conservative and compassionate solutions out there to address it. So we’re taking that task as a real challenge. I was asked to do it. That’s what we’re doing.”
Meadows declined to name the administration official.
President Donald Trump decided to end the DACA program, which provides work permits that protect roughly 800,000 children of undocumented immigrants from deportation, but to gradually unwind it over six months to provide Congress enough time to provide a legislative replacement. Republicans believe Obama’s 2012 executive order creating DACA was unconstitutional.
The Freedom Caucus board has discussed having a few members of the group work on a legislative proposal, Meadows said, noting he expects to formulate a working group this week. The full 36-member caucus has yet to discuss the DACA issue but the working group would undoubtedly seek input from their conservative colleagues.
“We’re looking at trying to find a multifaceted approach to dealing with DACA and other immigration issues,” Meadows said.
That would include elements such as DACA, border security and e-verify, he said.
Several Freedom Caucus members have said following the Trump administration's DACA announcement they remain opposed to a comprehensive overhaul and still prefer addressing immigration issues in a piecemeal fashion.
Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador, who chairs the House Judiciary Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee, is one of the Freedom Caucus members who prefers to pass immigration legislation in steps, with border and enforcement measures preceding any action on DACA. He has said one big immigration bill could not pass the House.
“The only one big bill that’s going to pass is an amnesty bill and that would be a great way for Republicans to lose all control in Congress," Labrador said last week.
Meadows noted the Freedom Caucus members do not share the same views but the goal of the working group would be to get a consensus among conservatives on how best to address the DACA issue.
One requirement is clear, though. And Meadows reiterated it: “Any way to get conservatives on board with DACA is going to have to have a border security element.”