A government shutdown is in the rearview mirror, but the outlines of a looming immigration deal remain murky with the sides still far apart — though the latest polling suggests President Trump’s bargaining position may be strong.
A Harvard-Harris poll taken in the run-up to the shutdown found Americans strongly support granting citizenship rights to illegal immigrant Dreamers. But they also back Mr. Trump’s three demands for a border wall, limits to the chain of family migration and an end to the Diversity Visa Lottery.
Most striking of all is the public’s demand for lower overall legal immigration — a position that has little traction on Capitol Hill but one that is overwhelmingly popular across the country.
The poll found that most Americans want annual legal immigration capped at 500,000 a year or less — far lower than the current annual rate of 1.3 million.
Those findings challenge what many lawmakers say is the bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill that while illegal immigration is to be discouraged, high levels of legal immigration are necessary for the nation’s image and its economy.
That is one of the positions likely to be tested as Congress begins a sprint to find an immigration compromise, potentially by Feb. 8 — the deadline for spending set Monday — but definitely by March 5, which is when Dreamers could begin losing legal protections in large numbers.
“For the first time in five years, we will have a debate on the floor of the Senate on the Dream Act and immigration,” said Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat.
Mr. Durbin has been leading the push for legalization and partnering with Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, on the plan that has drawn the most attention.
The Graham-Durbin outline would grant eventual citizenship rights to the 690,000 Dreamers protected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and would include more than 1 million others who either didn’t apply for the Obama-era program or who were too old to qualify. The plan would also create legal protections, though not citizenship, for their parents.
The White House said it also is willing to talk about the broader immigrant population and more security and enforcement.
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