President Trump on Tuesday cast the debate on proposals to revamp the nation’s immigration laws as the “last chance” for action as the Senate weighed competing proposals to legalize millions of young immigrants and fulfill his goal of bolstering U.S.-Mexico border security.
Early Tuesday, Trump signaled that he is keeping close tabs on the debate to permanently replace the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that he is ending March 5. The program has granted temporary legal protections to hundreds of thousands of “dreamers.”
“Negotiations on DACA have begun. Republicans want to make a deal and Democrats say they want to make a deal,” Trump tweeted. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could finally, after so many years, solve the DACA puzzle. This will be our last chance, there will never be another opportunity! March 5th.”
Winning support from Democrats will be key in the closely divided Senate, and attempts to introduce a deal with broad bipartisan backing are sputtering, according to aides tracking the talks. Also unclear is whether Democrats will introduce ideas destined to fall short in a bid to put Republican senators on the record against proposals backed by a majority of Americans.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made it clear the Senate has one week to act.
“There is no reason why we should not reach a bipartisan solution this week,” McConnell said. “But to do this, we need to get the debate started, look past making political points, and focus on making law. Making law will take 60 votes in the Senate, a majority in the House, and the president’s signature.”
A week-long congressional recess begins next week.
Seven GOP senators introduced a plan Monday that fulfills Trump’s calls to legalize 1.8 million dreamers, immediately authorizes spending of at least $25 billion to bolster defenses along the U.S.-Mexico border, makes changes to family-based legal migration programs and ends a diversity lottery system used by immigrants from smaller countries.
The Secure and Succeed Act “is the one bill that can become law,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) told “CBS This Morning.” But when asked if his bill has any support from Democrats, Cotton demurred.
“We won’t know until we put it on the floor and have those votes,” he said.
No Democrats are believed to back the plan in full — and Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) described it as “an all-Republican measure.”
Many Democrats do not like how the proposal would chip away at family-based legal migration and how much money would be spent to build a wall and fencing along the southern border.