WASHINGTON — Feb 14, 2018, 11:01 PM ET

Group of senators reaches immigration deal on Dreamers, wall

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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 10- to 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."

Also in play is a more modest plan by McCain and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del. It would let many Dreamers qualify for permanent residency and direct federal agencies to more effectively control the border by 2020. But it doesn't offer a special citizenship pathway for Dreamers, raise border security funds or make sweeping changes in legal immigration rules.

The White House said it opposes the McCain-Coons plan, saying it would "increase illegal immigration" and cause other problems.

Another vote will be taken on a proposal by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., that would add language blocking federal grants to "sanctuary cities," communities that don't cooperate with federal efforts to enforce immigration laws. The amendment is considered sure to lose.

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Associated Press writer Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.

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  • Blaize Rage

    Dreamers should not sponsor their family.

  • tet1953

    Ok so maybe Trump will get the first installment and get a chunk of wall built. Then he can claim victory. The rest of it will be undone.

  • David

    BS, one more Trump campaign promise unfulfilled, Mexico pays for the wall? No? Why am I not surprised. He couldn't go after Clinton because there never was a crime, he never revealed his taxes as he promised, he didn't drain the swamp he actually brought in more swamp creatures, his transparency? Least transparent President ever, wasn't going to play golf or leave the White House. Reduce the deficit/debt? Ha it will increase by 100 billion a year on top of what it was. Unite the country, another lie. The Democrats are enablers, they have sold out with the Republicans.

  • Punishment214

    1. Bulgaria

    The country built a wall along the Turkish border, which was completed in August 2015. It marks the beginning of the walling off of Europe, as some are referring to it.

    2. Hungary

    Hungary completed its wall along the Serbian border on 14 September 2015, and the wall along the Croatian border a month later.

    3. Slovenia

    Slovenia built a razor sharp fence, cutting across the Croatian border in November last year.

    4. Macedonia

    At the end of November, Macedonia completed a wall along the Greek border topped with barb wire.

    5. Austria

    In April of this year, Austria began construction of a ‘fence’ along the Italian border.

    6. France

    Now France joins them, funded by the UK.

    - Indy100, 21 September 2016

  • Ken Curtis

    Pay the Daca Dreamers and other Mexican illegals minimum wage to build the wall and once it's completed drop kick them over it.

  • Punishment214

    Southern Border Plan: Mexico's own fight against illegal immigration - France24 4/25/17

  • Punishment214

    Macedonia builds fence to keep out migrants - Politico 2/16/16

  • briteleaf

    Trump canceled the DACA program so he could use them as a bargaining chip to trade for the 25 BILLION WORKER BEE TAX DOLLARS FOR HIS WALL. Remember who chanted a hundred times that "MEXICO IS GOING TO PAY FOR THE WALL"? Most illegal immigrants arrive in America on a jet. Walls are just too expensive and are too easy to go over or under. A wall of drones patroling the border would be much more effective and so much less expensive. Let the president and his Republican swamp gators be responsible for ending DACA and exploding our national debt. Let's see how it serves them in November... So sick of the lying and incompetence of our Republican congressional swamp.

  • Summer Tyme

    Democrats continue to have all the negotiating skill of Charlie Brown.

    They cannot agree to build Trump's apartheid wall, under any circumstances.

    No matter what he threatens to do - or whom he threatens to deport in the meantime.

    You do not give in to a hostage taker!

    If you want to protect the Dreamers then work every day of every minute to impeach Trump.

    If you are not working to impeach him, then you are helping him, and so enabling the destruction of this country.

  • gbgentleman

    saying, "We need to take the president seriously."

    Can anyone take the president seriously? I mean he's a clown without the makeup.

  • arriba65

    Sounds like this compromise legislation might do it - I hope it can get 60 votes.

  • Lawrence Wilson

    I have a proposal for the illegals, give 'em the boot, all of them!

  • Dan Farrar

    Ending chain migration just for the Dreamers is DOA in House.

  • boyscout

    What baffles me is this: We have a united nations that say they are against violence and are engaged in nation building and rescuing people from freedom. And we have military in all these places and spending trillions of dollars to be rescuing them and helping rebuilding their nations and bla bla bla. Yet mexico does not seem to be on the list. Instead of building walls and wasting money why are the nations not helping stop the violence and crime in mexico and investing and creating more opportunities for citizens in business, work and education and a reasonably safe environment so they would not feel the need to run away from it. Oh wait someone stands to benefit and make lots of money from the way it is$$$$$$$$$$$$

  • John Springer

    I do not think the lottery is a good idea. However if they can compromise.

  • Bill2000

    2.5 Billion for a stupid wall that won't work, and then Republicans go after social security because they need to balance the budget

  • Kevin from Wa.

    OUCH

  • P bis

    The Democrats need to take control of Congress first. Any deal done for DACA will be undone by Trump. Dont approve a stupid wall. Its all Trump has to campaign on. Let him try and deport one million people. The Dems are making a serious mistake just as Obama did. Take control of Congress. Dont try this bipartisan baloney.

  • PhatDevil

    Yeah... Let's build the wall. That will stop all of the mass shootings. Priorities?

  • Jake the real Jake

    Trump you need to press the senate on Gun Control of assault weapons, 100s more die of home grown domestic violence, The Wall nonsense is just that ask the Chinese.
    Get real Chief Loser.

  • duckkdownn

    What's the plan to get Mexico to pay for Trump's folly? Just tell us the PLAN.

  • TexasVulcan

    Send a bill to the President. Let him reject it and the word spread quickly that he has no intention of "making a deal".

  • SMRT

    Sounds like Donald (or someone likely without a security clearance) managed to write a decent tweet about the recent tragic madness in Florida. Here’s to learning from mistakes:

    "Jesus, he copy pasted his response to a mass shooting and forgot to change the location. What a clown."

    (“Twitter Slams Donald Trump For Tweeting Condolences About The Wrong Mass Shooting”, by Lee Moran)