Congress Faces Historic Immigration Debate

Congress Faces Historic Immigration Debate

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Monday on the floor that "the key is to find a consensus bill, largely acceptable to a significant number of members of both parties" and cautioned Republicans against pressing for too much as they're up against such a critical DACA deadline.

Last month, he suggested that he would sign whatever immigration bill landed on his desk.

"We just don't know where 60 votes are for any particular proposal", said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., citing the votes needed for passage.

If not, Flake says lawmakers will need to do something to protect the Dreamers - young immigrants who have lived in the USA illegally since they were children. Another 1.1 million young immigrants are eligible for Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) but did not apply.

The U.S. Senate began debate Monday afternoon on immigration, including protection of 800,000 undocumented young immigrants who could face deportation on March 5.

President Donald Trump has offered more than Democrats asked on citizenship for the so-called Dreamers, but only in exchange for tough cutbacks on overall immigration and funding for a massive wall on the Mexican border.

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Democrats and some Republicans have opposed Trump's hardline stance, especially on its restricting family-based immigration to spouses and children, and on massive funding for the border wall. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is expected to introduce a compromise proposal that will fund a border wall, provide a pathway to 1.8 million immigrants, eliminate the diversity visa lottery, limit family-based visas, and reallocate visas to deal with the growing backlog.

The Senate did not vote to open the debate until Monday evening, and held no floor debate after that.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell explained why he supports a "four pillars' approach, addressing problems of both illegal and legal immigration". He said the administration would not ask Congress to set a later date to give bargainers more time to reach a bipartisan deal, but said the government would not start deporting "Dreamers" who don't have criminal records. After all, Dreamers have been trotted out as hopeful Americans with "merit" and "skill", two core elements of the Trump administration's focus to encourage lower levels of immigration. It takes 60 votes for a proposal to be considered part of the bill.

While Schumer said these proposals should get the first look in the Senate, he was not optimistic about either's chances of becoming law. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and his immigration legislation, as the debate over immigration reform continues to play out on Capitol Hill. We get back yesterday, what do the Democrats do?

Cotton argued that Democratic support for Trump's immigration compromise framework is "the electorally smart thing to do" in a midterm election year.

- A bipartisan bill from Republican Senator John McCain and Democratic Senator Chris Coon blending a few such ideas.

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