Proposed Immigration Measure Would Bypass Border Wall Funding

By Alfonso Serrano Feb 05, 2018

A pair of senators will introduce bipartisan immigration legislation today (February 5) aimed at reaching a budget deal before Friday (February 9), when the federal government’s current funding is set to run out, according to The Wall Street Journal.

But the measure written by John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.)—which would offer citizenship to the young immigrants know as "Dreamers," but does not provide funding for a southern border wall—has little chance of reaching President Donald Trump’s desk in its current form.

The bill, according to The Journal, would pave a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who were brought to the United States as young children who have lived in the country since December 31, 2013. That would cover more immigrants than the 1.8 million people who Trump has offered to protect.

The McCain-Coons measure would also call on the Department of Homeland Security to devise a strategy for operational control of the border by 2020, and it would provide $110 million annually for five years to improve coordination between U.S. Customs and Border Protection and local law enforcement officials.

"While reaching a deal cannot come soon enough for America’s service members, the current political reality demands bipartisan cooperation to address the impending expiration of the DACA program and secure the southern border," McCain told The Journal in a statement, referring to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that expires on March 5 and would leave some 700,000 young immigrants unprotected from deportation.

The measure, however, does not offer $25 billion in funding for a border wall, which is one of Trump’s demands for any immigration deal. And the proposal does not address the issue of family-based immigration, another Trump and Republican sticking point.

Today, Trump again voiced opposition to any deal that does not include money for a wall.

Trump’s warning comes as some lawmakers in Washington openly concede that Congress may again postpone a permanent legislative solution for DACA receipients. With another deadline looming on Friday, lawmakers are discussing a temporary solution that would offer them legal protection from deportation for one year, in exchange for some border security funding, according to Politico.

"That may be where we’re headed because, you know, Congress is pretty dysfunctional," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Politico. "That’d be a real loss. But that’s probably where we’re headed, okay?"

Congress has punted twice on an immigration deal in the last two months. Lawmakers skirted the issue in late December when they approved a short-term spending measure and avoided a government shutdown. In January, lawmakers’ intransigence over immigration forced a three-day government shutdown before Congress agreed to extend government funding—and a decision on DACA—until February 8.

In September, the Trump administration rescinded DACA, the Obama-era directive that protects young immigrants from deportation and allows them to legally work and study, and called on Congress to hammer out a legislative solution. But a federal judge negated the Trump order last month, arguing that DACA must remain in place while legal challenges to the order wind their way through the court system.

Despite Graham’s glum view, other Republicans hold out hope for a permanent solution. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine.) told Politico:

I’m a little concerned that if it’s a very short-term fix that they’re still living in fear of what’s gonna happen, rather than knowing that they can live in this country and work towards becoming a citizen, assuming they have a good record. So that does not appeal to me because we’ll be back in the same debate a year from now.