Texas Rep. John Carter is a member of the House Republican immigration working group set up by House Speaker Paul Ryan to figure out a path forward for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama-era policy that protected young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation, which President Donald Trump has decided to end.
Carter told reporters in the Capitol that he expects what comes out of those meetings to be Republican-only and to include at least something for Trump's controversial border wall.
"I think we will have a wall factor in the bill and I don't think we will get a single Democrat vote," Carter said about the discussions.
Democrats have said any wall funding would be a nonstarter for negotiations, and Trump has suggested he'd consider separating the wall from the debate, though the White House has said it's a priority.
Carter declined to talk about the internal deliberations of the group, but said, "we are trying to come up with solutions which will not only be good for the DACA people but will also be good for America."
Sources familiar with the workings of the group, which includes Republicans from across the spectrum of ideology in the party, say that while the group has been meeting and discussions are happening among members, the rough outline of a deal has yet to form.
Republicans may aspire to be able to use its House majority to pass the bill but will almost certainly lose some members over any legalization of DACA recipients, and could lose more moderates or conservatives depending on how a deal takes shape. For any bill to pass the Senate, it will need Democratic votes to clear the 60-vote filibuster threshold.
When Trump announced in early September he was ending DACA, Ryan created the group to attempt to gain consensus on the thorny issue. Trump urged Congress to act and protect DACA recipients, but has also called for border security and immigration enforcement with it. Sunday night, the White House released a laundry list
of conservative immigration principles that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday dismissed as "trash" and coming from a place of "darkness and cruelty."
Trump created a six-month window for Congress to act by offering DACA permits that expire before March 5 one month to renew for a fresh two years, postponing any DACA expirations until March.
On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security said it was still finalizing numbers but that at least 86% of those DACA recipients eligible to renew had applications in by the October 5 deadline. Roughly 132,000 of the 154,000 eligible recipients had applied, spokesman David Lapan said, but that could leave thousands of recipients losing protections before March.
As for the strategy of the House to pass a Republican-only bill, Carter acknowledged that there was a concern the group's proposal couldn't pass the Senate but said the other chamber needs "to get their work done" and he hoped both the House and Senate could hammer out a final compromise.
But Pelosi criticized the strategy when asked by CNN what she thought of Carter's comments.
"That would not be a good idea," Pelosi said. "Why would they go to such a place? It is really, again, another act of cruelty if they want to diminish a bill in such a way. And they still have to win in the Senate."
California Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a longtime key House Democrat on any immigration policy, said that no serious negotiations have occurred between parties and moving forward alone would be Republicans' prerogative but not necessarily successful.
"I like (Carter), I have no idea what they're looking at, and if we were really having negotiations, we would be talking to each other," Lofgren told CNN. "If they have the votes to pass something, they have the capacity to do that. How they get 60 votes in the Senate, who knows."