Group reaches deal on Dreamers, wall
WASHINGTON — 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 a border wall with Mexico, lawmakers said.
Though the measure sprang from around two dozen senators 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 hotbutton issue to a close.
While not specifically mentioning the bipartisan pact, Trump urged lawmakers to oppose any plan that doesn’t meet his 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 proposal 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.
According to several senators, the proposal would grant a 10- to 12-year route to citizenship for Dreamers, with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., saying it would cover 1.8 million of them.
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 measure does not alter a lottery that distributes about 55,000 visas annually to people from diverse countries.