Originally Published by The Hill.
Three groups affiliated with conservative mega-donor Charles Koch pledged Tuesday to support any deal that gives Dreamers permanent immigration status in exchange for border security funding on the U.S.-Mexico border. Libre Initiative president Daniel Garza argued Tuesday that a border-for-Dreamers exchange was the best way out of a funding stalemate that's kept a quarter of the federal government shut down since Dec. 22. "We're looking for President Trump to make the case for a bipartisan solution," said Garza. "There is agreement that we can do both -- certainty and security -- just like we did on criminal justice reform," he added.
Garza, along with Freedom Partners executive vice president James Davis and Americans for Prosperity president Tim Phillips, made the pitch ahead of Trump's prime-time address Tuesday to make the case for funding a border wall. Trump will address the nation at 9 p.m. in an effort to frame construction of a wall as a solution to what the administration calls "the security and humanitarian crises" on the border. Trump has threatened to declare a national emergency at the border in order to tap into Defense Department funds to build his proposed wall. That approach has been met with unanimous scorn from Democrats and resistance from some Republicans, including the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry (Texas), who said Tuesday that he's "opposed to using defense dollars for non-defense purposes.” For the Koch network, the worst-case scenario is one that doesn't untangle the shutdown logjam and maintains the existing state of affairs for Dreamers -- undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as minors. "Worst case would be status quo, nothing happens, the division continues," said Garza. Koch groups have actively pursued immigration reform -- most aggressively a legislated replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program -- since Trump ordered Obama-era program rescinded in September 2017. "It's been literally decades since a president and Congress last came together to fix our immigration laws and it's genuinely hurting people," Phillips said. Several GOP senators have floated the idea of a wall-for-DACA proposal, but it's failed to gain steam as open wounds remain from an unsuccessful series of negotiations last summer. "Americans have seen one opportunity or another to get together on a bipartisan DACA and border solution squandered," said Garza. "It's not a lost hope, and that's why we're here: There is a bipartisan solution," he added