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US Senate to Vote on Immigration Reform

(VOA): The U.S. Senate’s week-long deliberations on immigration reform could culminate with votes later Thursday on competing proposals to change how America handles newcomers from abroad. Late Wednesday, a bipartisan group of 16 senators unveiled legislation that would offer a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, boost border security funding by $25 billion, and focus immigration enforcement efforts on criminals, threats to national security, and those arriving illegally after the end of June. South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham called the proposal "the most significant change to immigration law in the past 35 years"  and "a substantial down payment on fixing a broken immigration system." ​President Donald Trump backs more sweeping reforms that would add limits to the current system of family-based immigration and prioritize newcomers who have advanced work skills. Trump's immigration agenda is encapsulated in legislation conservative Republican lawmakers introduced earlier this week. Democratic senators countered with a proposal that pairs help for young immigrants with limited border security enhancements. Neither partisan bill is expected to get the three-fifths backing required to advance in the chamber. Senators of both parties told VOA they see the compromise bipartisan proposal as the best hope for enacting immigration reform, although it remained unclear whether the bill could pass in the House of Representatives or whether Trump would sign it into law if it reached his desk. The Department of Homeland Security has already slammed the bipartisan legislation, saying it "would be the end of immigration enforcement in America and only serve to draw millions more illegal aliens with no way to remove them." Instead of helping to secure the border as the President has repeatedly asked Congress to do, it would do the exact opposite and make our border far more open and porous," the DHS statement said. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has argued the president's case for major changes to immigration law. "Common sense dictates that we cannot simply treat one symptom of our broken immigration policy. We must address the underlying problems, as well. That means fixing broken parts of our legal immigration system," McConnell said. "We must also ensure the safety of the American people." Democrats argued that sweeping alterations of America's immigration system be considered separately from legislation addressing the plight of beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, sometimes called Dreamers. "We will not stand by and allow Dreamers be held hostage, political hostage, to the administration's entire immigration agenda," Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin said. Last year, the president rescinded DACA, an Obama administration policy that allowed young undocumented immigrants to work and study in the United States, and gave lawmakers six months to craft a permanent legislative replacement. DACA beneficiaries will be at risk of deportation beginning March 5 unless Congress acts.

(This story has not been edited by N24 staff and is Voice Of America auto-generated from a RSS feed)

Published Date: Thursday, February 15th, 2018 | 10:45 PM

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