Sens. Coons, McCain propose new immigration deal

A truck drives near the Mexico-U.S. border fence. Sens. John McCain and Chris. Coons formally introduced a bill that would grant permanent legal status to undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers,” and start bolstering security along the U.S.-Mexico border. (AP file photo)

A truck drives near the Mexico-U.S. border fence. Sens. John McCain and Chris. Coons formally introduced a bill that would grant permanent legal status to undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers,” and start bolstering security along the U.S.-Mexico border. (AP file photo)

U.S. Sens. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, and John McCain, R-Arizona, have introduced what they hope will be a fix for DACA and an improvement for border security. Both issues are tied to a longer-term funding deal, delaying implementation of a new federal budget. Without action from Congress, the roughly 700,000 in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program would no longer be shielded from deportation.

McCain “and I both see this bill as an option, a bipartisan option that has drawn strong support in the House, and will hopefully allow us to move forward,” Coons said Monday.

Dubbed the Uniting and Securing America Act, the bill mirrors legislation introduced in the House that has 54 co-sponsors — 27 Republicans and 27 Democrats.

It calls for eventually granting citizenship to young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. And it provides for the creation of a “smart wall” using physical barriers and improved technology to give the Department of Homeland Security more control over who is crossing the border.

“The McCain/Coons bill also has provisions for beefing up our immigration courts and addressing one of the root causes of illegal immigration through engagement with our partners in three Central American countries,” Coons said.

In January, Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, also proposed a bipartisan immigration bill that drew ire from President Donald Trump. Coons called the Graham/Durbin plan a bold attempt at addressing a broad range of immigration issues.

“Some [of those issues] were made thorny by the president’s fairly famously vulgar rejection of the Graham/Durbin bill,” Coons said.

Earlier Monday, Trump appeared to tweet his opposition to the McCain/Coons plan.

“Any deal on DACA that does not include STRONG border security and the desperately needed WALL is a total waste of time,” Trump tweeted. “March 5 is rapidly approaching, and the Dems seem not to care about DACA. Make a deal!”

Trump set March 5 as the deadline for reaching a deal on the DACA program.

Coons said it’s not right to make those in the country who are losing their DACA status wait longer for a fix. “The idea that these hundreds of thousands of people and their families should go many more months without any resolution, without any stability or predictability, I just don’t think that’s fair or appropriate.”

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