It’s taken just two weeks for the immigration battle to fade from blistering to back-burner, the Associated Press reports. Lawmakers now seem likely to do little or nothing this election year on an effort that’s been eclipsed by Congress’ new focus on guns, bloodied by Senate defeats and relegated to B-level urgency by a Supreme Court ruling. Talks that sought a bipartisan package have gone dormant. It would include a chance for citizenship for young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally and $25 billion for President Trump to erect his border wall. Even a proposal dangling modest wins for both sides — a three-year renewal of a program protecting hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation in exchange for a $7.6 billion down payment for the wall — seems a longshot.
“The prospects for immigration legislation, big or small, are very, very bleak,” concedes Frank Sharry of America’s Voice, an immigrants’ rights group. Distrust between the two parties has intensified, with each suspecting the other of weaponizing the impasse to rouse loyal voters for November’s contest for congressional control. There are tactical rifts between Democrats and a coalition of liberal and immigrants’ rights organizations over how aggressively to force the issue, and differences between conservative organizations and some Republicans over the wisdom of a narrow accord. Looking to furnish political cover to rank-and-file Republicans, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) only want to consider immigration bills that have Trump’s support.