The chances of a deal that would legalize citizenship for thousands of so-called Dreamers is "50-50," U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami, said Monday — despite President Donald Trump's public opposition.
Curbelo said he and the president spoke during a visit last week to the Florida Keys.
"I told him the most important thing we can do is to pass immigration reform."
When moderator John Harwood, editor-at-large for CNBC, noted Trump's past statements that immigration legislation was dead, Curbelo responded, "That's not what he told me."
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Earlier this winter, the president dashed hopes for a deal that would create a path to citizenship for hundreds of immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, known as Dreamers. A federal court ruled earlier this year that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals protections cannot be ended.
Curbelo put the odds at 50-50 that 2018 will end immigration reform. Fifty Republicans have signed onto an effort to revive the debate, he said.
Rep. Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania, who was also on the stage, said he hears frequently from constituents in agriculture and technology who are also in favor of immigration reform. "If you want economic progress in this country, you need to be sure you have the right workers who can find a path to citizenship."
Speaking at an invitation-only lunch at the eMerge Americas conference, Curbelo and Costello joined fellow Republican Rep. Brian Mast of Broward in a wide-ranging conversation that included Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's recent appearance before Congress and gun control.
Costello, who serves on the congressional committee that oversees commerce and telecommunications, said he expects Congress to take some action regarding digital privacy but does not envision broad restrictions similar to those being instituted in Europe because they could stun economic growth. "We want to find a balance to encourage technology but protect privacy," agreed Curbelo.
All three congressmen said they believe Congress will take some action on gun control, most likely strengthening background checks and instituting a nationwide 72-hour waiting period for gun sales. Said Mast, whose district includes Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, "You're going to have to be this tall to ride the ride."