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Two Senators Offer Narrow Bill Protecting Young Immigrants

  • Associated Press

FILE - Activists demonstrate outside the New York office of Sen. Chuck Schumer in New York to ask for the passage of a 'clean' Dream Act, one without additional enforcement or security, Jan. 10, 2018.

Two senators planned to introduce compromise legislation Monday that would help achieve legal status for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children and strengthen border security. But the measure stops short of explicitly providing money for a wall along the boundary with Mexico, the focus of President Donald Trump's immigration policies.

The plan is a more modest approach than Trump has sought for protecting "Dreamers," young immigrants helped by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Its unveiling comes days before the Senate plans to begin debating immigration legislation, a battle that faces an uncertain outcome in a politically polarized climate.

Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Chris Coons, D-Del., are the authors of legislation, which faces an unclear fate. They said in a statement that it was designed to focus on two "pressing" border issues — the "Dreamers" and border security — so lawmakers could focus on completing a long-overdue budget deal.

The measure lacks Trump's demands for limiting the relatives that "Dreamers" can sponsor for citizenship, and ending a visa lottery aimed at admitting more immigrants from diverse places including Africa.

Trump seemed to tweet his reaction to the bill Monday morning, saying any proposal without wall funding was "a total waste of time."

The senators' plan would create a road to legal status for "Dreamers" who arrived in the U.S. by the end of 2013 and meet other criteria, including no convictions for serious crimes. Once they've become lawful permanent residents, they can follow existing procedures to apply for citizenship.

Democrats and some Republicans want to give "Dreamers" a pathway to citizenship, but oppose cuts Trump would make in the number of legal immigrants allowed to enter the U.S. Conservatives oppose letting "Dreamers" become citizens. That stalemate has led many to believe the likeliest outcome is a narrowly focused bill or even no legislation at all.

The senators' proposal is similar to a bipartisan House package by Reps. Will Hurd, R-Texas, and Pete Aguilar, D-Calif.