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This approach has benefits for Mr. Trump and his party. The president keeps a key campaign promise by not agreeing to anything his base would consider too lenient.

He avoids an assault from the conservative news media, which called him names like “Amnesty Don” after he showed signs of flexibility.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Republican who has been a frequent target of the right for trying to broker bipartisan agreements on immigration, said the current debate was noticeably lacking in the bitterness that had so easily whipped up against Republicans in the past.

“That’s just on the margins now,” he said. “Trump introduced a 1.8 million-person pathway to citizenship. And it’s hard to get to his right on this stuff.”

And if the efforts in the Senate to pass a deal go nowhere, that saves vulnerable incumbent Republicans in the House from having to take a difficult vote and risk a primary challenge from the right. Before the end of March, 25 states…



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