Members of Congress are at loggerheads over an immigration overhaul as pressure mounted for action before the expiration of a program that protects hundreds of thousands of young, undocumented immigrants from deportation, The Guardian reports. The Senate was poised to begin a highly anticipated debate on the issue, with President Trump seeking enhanced border security measures and other drastic changes to the immigration system in exchange for providing a pathway to citizenship to the so-called “Dreamers” – undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.
As varying proposals were floated by members of both parties, senators voiced doubts that any of the plans had sufficient votes to pass. “There’s no reason not to come together and get a solution this week,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). “This has been going on endlessly.” The status of Dreamers was thrown into limbo last September when Trump said he was rescinding the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which enabled 700,000 Dreamers to obtain temporary legal status. The president gave Congress until March 5 to replace DACA. Immigration advocates estimate nearly 19,000 Dreamers have already lost their protections as a result of Trump’s move. Trump has embraced a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers, beyond those covered under DACA, but he demanded funding for a wall along the Mexico border, an end to the lottery program that allocates visas to immigrants from underrepresented countries, and a scaling back of visas for the families of legal immigrants. Trump reiterated his stance speaking with sheriffs Tuesday. “We’re asking Congress to support our immigration policy that keeps terrorists, drug dealers, criminals, and gang members out of our country,” Trump said. “We want them out. We don’t want them in.”