Federal lawmakers are now in a shutdown standoff: Democrats are refusing to support a bill funding the government unless they have a deal on immigration. Republicans are refusing to negotiate on immigration until Democrats support a bill to fund the government.
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But amid the noise and recriminations, President Donald Trump and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer are tantalizingly close to a surprising immigration deal that would protect the 'Dreamers,' approximately 800,000 young immigrants who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children.
Sources inside the White House tell ABC News that the president has expressed a willingness to support legal status for 'Dreamers' in exchange for full funding of his border wall at a cost of about $20 billion over seven years.
Trump has expressed a willingness to do this, sources tell ABC News, even if he gets nothing on the two other big Republican immigration priorities: Ending the visa lottery system and restricting so-called chain migration.
Democratic sources tell ABC News that Schumer told Trump he is open to exactly such a deal: Funding the wall in exchange for a deal on the 'Dreamers.'
Sources said Schumer didn't reject the $20 billion figure for the wall, either. Congress generally funds the government one year at a time, but under the deal that was discussed, a fund would be set up to make money available for the border wall’s construction over the next several years.
This is not a deal that immigration hardliners would like, which may help explain some of the dynamics behind this shutdown. For immigration conservatives, policy changes, such as to the visa lottery and chain migration, are more important than the wall.
But Trump campaigned on his pledge to build a wall, and, especially after his Chief of Staff John Kelly recently questioned how serious he is about it, the president wants to prove he can deliver on his promise.