Lawmakers on the 17-member conference committee had been trading offers over how much money could go to barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. They were looking at between $1.3 billion and $2 billion — far short of the $5.7 billion Trump had demanded. The White House had begun to signal flexibility on that issue, even though Trump would have ended up with much less money than he sought and the enhanced fencing or other barriers agreed to by Congress would fall short of the 200-plus miles of steel walls he had wanted.
But throughout the talks, Democrats had also been focused on limiting ICE’s ability to detain unauthorized immigrants, which has become a major issue for the party because of Democrats opposition to the Trump administration’s aggressive detention tactics. The Democrats’ proposal included a new limit on detention beds for immigrants picked up not at the border but in the interior of the country.
Democrats wanted to cap that number at 16,500, which they said is around the level of interior detentions in the final years of the Obama administration, although it’s fewer than the number currently detained under the Trump administration’s enforcement policies. Republicans want to exclude a range of immigrants from the cap. These would be people convicted of, or charged with, a variety of crimes, ranging from violent felonies to misdemeanor drug offenses.