President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner struggled to answer questions about his plan to overhaul the immigration system in a closed-door meeting with Republican senators Tuesday, according to GOP officials, winning little support for the proposal.
Publicly, senators emerged from their weekly Capitol Hill luncheon, applauding the White House senior adviser’s pitch to move U.S. immigration toward a merit-based system that prioritizes highly skilled workers, a task he undertook at Trump’s behest.
But privately, Republican officials said Kushner had difficulty answering questions from a friendly audience, prompting Trump’s other senior adviser, Stephen Miller, to interrupt and take over the conversation. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely discuss what transpired at the meeting.
At one point, Kushner told Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, that his plan would not address Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the program that shields some young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children from deportation. This left several senators confused, as dealing with the “dreamers,” as that group of foreign-born people is often called, is crucial for securing any Democratic support.
Congressional Republicans and Democrats have struggled to try to reach a compromise on immigration that would address the 11 million immigrants in the United States illegally. Since Trump took office, they have repeatedly failed as the president has embraced a hard-line position and pressed for billions of U.S. dollars to build a border wall that he promised Mexico would finance.
Last week, Trump met privately with a dozen GOP senators at the White House to discuss the plan. Faced with Democratic opposition, the effort was seen primarily as a political document that Trump and Republicans could rally behind.
But GOP senators left the meeting wondering whether Kushner understood the issue, the GOP officials said. Though some appreciated his efforts, they did not think his plan would advance anytime soon.
The White House had no immediate comment on the session.