A bipartisan pair of senators plans Monday to introduce a narrow bill to provide a path to citizenship for immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children, as a way to break the congressional logjam over immigration policy, according to a report Sunday.
Sens. John McCain, R., Ariz. and Chris Coons, D., Del., plan to unveil a proposal that offers a path to citizenship for young immigrants known as “Dreamers” who have lived in the U.S. since Dec. 31, 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported. That is expected to be a larger group than would be covered by President Trump’s proposal to provide legal status to 1.8 million young immigrants.
“It’s time we end the gridlock so we can quickly move on to completing a long-term budget agreement that provides our men and women in uniform the support they deserve,” McCain said in a statement to the Journal.
McCain was part of a failed effort in 2013 known as the Gang of Eight that would have provided a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally.
“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,” he said, referring to former President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, that protected young immigrants from deportation and provided them work permits.
The bipartisan Senate bill also orders a comprehensive study to determine border-security measures to implement. It would provide a $110 million annual grant for five years to improve coordination between border-patrol agents and state and local law-enforcement officials.
It would call for hiring 55 new immigration court judges annually for three years, to clear a backlog of asylum cases. And it would order the State Department to provide a three-year strategy to help Central American countries address the causes of illegal immigration to the U.S., such as drug and gang violence.
The bill does not include some proposals preferred by Trump.
In exchange for protecting “Dreamers,” Trump wants funding for a border wall and changes to other parts of the immigration system, such as ending the visa lottery program and limiting family-based immigration.
The immigration debate is challenging Congress’ need to reach a long-term government funding deal.
Trump announced last year he would end the DACA program, and he gave Congress until March 5 to address the status of the immigrants.
Lawmakers are unlikely to reach an immigration deal before Feb. 8, when they must vote on another short-term government spending bill.
Parts of the government temporarily shut down last month because Democrats wanted a vote on an immigration deal to be tied to a government funding bill.