Group of se­na­tors reach im­mi­gra­tion deal on Dream­ers, wall

Imperial Valley Press - - OPINION -

WASH­ING­TON (AP) — A group of se­na­tors reached a bi­par­ti­san agree­ment Wed­nes­day aimed at bal­anc­ing Democrats’ fight to of­fer cit­i­zen­ship to young “Dreamer” im­mi­grants with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s de­mands for bil­lions to build his cov­eted bor­der wall with Mex­ico.

Though the com­pro­mise was an­nounced by 16 se­na­tors with cen­trist views on the is­sue and was win­ning sup­port from many Democrats, it faced an un­cer­tain fate. Lead­ers were try­ing to sched­ule votes on that plan and three other im­mi­gra­tion pro­pos­als for Thurs­day, which they hoped would bring the cham­ber’s show­down over the hot-but­ton is­sue to a close.

While not specif­i­cally men­tion­ing the bi­par­ti­san pact, Trump urged law­mak­ers to op­pose any plan that doesn’t meet his more strin­gent de­mands, which in­clude curbs on le­gal im­mi­gra­tion and the abo­li­tion of a visa lot­tery. The Se­nate’s No. 2 Repub­li­can, John Cornyn of Texas, warned that law­mak­ers need to ad­dress Trump’s en­tire pro­posal, say­ing, “We need to take the pres­i­dent se­ri­ously.”

There were also qualms among Democrats. The party’s No. 2 Se­nate leader, Richard Durbin of Illi­nois, said some Democrats had “se­ri­ous is­sues” with parts of the plan. Those con­cerns fo­cused on its spend­ing for Trump’s wall and its bar against Dream­ers spon­sor­ing their par­ents for le­gal res­i­dency.

“We’re not there yet,” Durbin said of the 60 votes the pro­posal would need for ap­proval.

So far, no other pro­pos­als from ei­ther side seem able to do that. Repub­li­cans con­trol the cham­ber 51-49, though Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has missed the last sev­eral weeks while bat­tling can­cer.

The bi­par­ti­san mea­sure’s spon­sors in­cluded eight GOP se­na­tors. That meant just three more Repub­li­cans would be needed for it to pre­vail if it is backed by all 47 Democrats and the two in­de­pen­dents who usu­ally sup­port them.

The com­pro­mise emerged as se­na­tors spent a third day of de­bate largely as they spent the first two — with the cham­ber floor mostly empty. Other than an ini­tial roll call al­low­ing for­mal de­bate to be­gin, there have been no other votes while party lead­ers talk be­hind the scenes about sched­ul­ing votes on spe­cific pro­pos­als.

The cen­trist pro­posal was pro­duced by a group led by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., that spent weeks seek­ing mid­dle ground.

It would grant a 10to 12-year route to cit­i­zen­ship for 1.8 mil­lion Dream­ers, par­tic­i­pants said. That’s the same num­ber Trump has sug­gested help­ing with his own wider-rang­ing but more re­stric­tive pro­posal. Dream­ers are young im­mi­grants who were brought to the U.S. il­le­gally as chil­dren and still have no per­ma­nent pro­tec­tion from de­por­ta­tion.

The plan would pro­vide $25 bil­lion over a decade, $2.5 bil­lion an­nu­ally, for a wall and other bor­der se­cu­rity mea­sures, the same to­tal Trump has re­quested. It would bar Dream­ers from spon­sor­ing their par­ents for cit­i­zen­ship, far nar­rower than Trump’s pro­posal to pre­vent all le­gal im­mi­grants from bring­ing par­ents and sib­lings to the U.S.

The mod­er­ates’ mea­sure does not al­ter a lot­tery that dis­trib­utes about 55,000 visas an­nu­ally to peo­ple from di­verse coun­tries. Trump has pro­posed end­ing it and re­dis­tribut­ing its visas to other im­mi­grants, in­clud­ing some who are ad­mit­ted based on job skills, not fam­ily ties.

“The di­ver­sity lot­tery is kind of toxic po­lit­i­cally be­cause of some of the things said by the pres­i­dent,” said Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, R-S.C., a ref­er­ence to a vul­gar de­scrip­tion Trump used for African coun­tries dur­ing a dis­cus­sion of im­mi­gra­tion.

The White House is­sued a writ­ten state­ment by Trump urg­ing se­na­tors to back his bill and “op­pose any leg­is­la­tion that fails to ful­fill” his de­mands. But the state­ment did not say Trump would veto a bill that fell short of them.

A GOP mea­sure track­ing Trump’s pro­posal and backed by McCon­nell has been in­tro­duced and was ex­pected to re­ceive a vote. Few ex­pect it to at­tract 60 votes, but Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., said he be­lieved the bi­par­ti­san pro­posal could.

If that hap­pens, Rounds said, “We’ll al­low the pres­i­dent to de­ter­mine whether or not it moves in the di­rec­tion that he wants.”

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in­di­rectly em­braced the bi­par­ti­san plan, say­ing, “Each side has had to give a great deal, but we are closer than we have ever been to pass­ing some­thing in the Se­nate to help the Dream­ers.”

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