AP NEWS

Mitch McConnell willing to talk immigration deal with Democrats

April 11, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday he’s ready to begin negotiations with Democrats on writing a major immigration reform bill, saying something needs to get done and it will require the GOP making concessions.

He said Republicans want to see action on border security and changes to the policies that create the incentives drawing illegal immigrants toward the U.S. right now but said that will mean dealing with Democrats who control the House.

“I think it’s way past time for us to have an adult bipartisan discussion about our immigration laws and see what we can agree to,” he told reporters in an afternoon briefing in his office.

Asked if that means he would entertain the broad “comprehensive immigration reform” approach Democrats say is necessary, Mr. McConnell signaled an openness.

“I’m willing to enter into a negotiation to see what we can do to fix the problems,” he said

Immigration has bedeviled Congress for years.

The Senate has passed broad legalization bills in 2006 and 2013, and tried but failed in 2007. None of those were taken up in the House.

Instead, the House passed a similar Dream Act to legalize illegal immigrants in 2010, but it was rejected in a GOP-led filibuster in the Senate.

Mr. McConnell voted for the 2006 reform, but has opposed the others.

He could have a willing negotiating partner in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Speaking Thursday morning at Democrats’ policy retreat, she said she regularly asks President Trump to take up the issue.

“We cannot continue with a situation where we have 11 million people craving a path to citizenship, craving a path to being here legally and just continue to ignore it,” she said.

Mrs. Pelosi ducked the immigration debate during her previous tenure as speaker from 2007 to 2010, other than moving the Dream Act bill that died in the Senate.

Mr. McConnell has chided Democrats for failing to act when they had complete control of the levers of power with President Obama and a Democratic Congress in 2009 and 2010.

Mrs. Pelosi on Thursday said she sees a chance now.

“It’s complicated, but it isn’t hard to do if you have good intentions,” she said.