Bipartisan Senate Group To Roll Out Soft DACA Bill

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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A bipartisan group of senators will unveil a DACA replacement bill Wednesday that combines Democrats’ favorite amnesty proposal with some border security and immigration reforms, but stops far short of what the Trump administration has demanded.

The bill marries the Dream Act, which would set a path to citizenship for millions of younger illegal immigrants, with some border security enhancements, including limited funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall. It would also eliminate the diversity visa lottery, but reserve the program’s 50,000 annual immigrant visas for foreign nationals with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and immigrants from “priority countries” that are “underrepresented.”

The provisions of the so-called DREAM Deal are laid out in a one-page summary obtained by Politico’s Senate reporter Seung Min Kim.

The proposal is a product of negotiations among the so-called “Gang of Six” — Republican Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Cory Gardner of Colorado; and Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, and Michael Bennet of Colorado. It is similar to a DACA replacement the same group presented to Trump at a meeting last week, but was immediately rejected by the White House and GOP conservatives for its soft treatment of the green card lottery and chain migration.


According to the summary, the revised proposal would establish conditional permanent resident status for illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. by June 15, 2012, with a 12-year probationary period until eligibility for citizenship. Eligible illegal immigrants must have been younger than 18 years old to qualify for the amnesty.

The border security component of the bill includes $1.6 billion for a border barrier, plus another $1.2 billion for “tactical infrastructure” including surveillance technology and funds for Border Patrol agent “retention and relocation.”

As for changes to the diversity visa lottery, the proposal does not do away with the program entirely, but reallocates half of the visas to former TPS recipients and the other half to nationals of certain underrepresented countries. The visas reserved for immigrants from low-migration countries would be handed out through an unspecified merit-based system.

Finally, the Dream Deal would prevent any amnestied immigrant from sponsoring their parents for a green card. However, parents would be eligible for three-year renewable legal status that includes work authorization.

As with the previous Gang of Six proposal, the bill meets none of Trump administration’s requirements for a DACA deal, most noticeably funding for the border wall. A DACA bill introduced by House Republicans and endorsed by the White House, by contrast, would appropriate $18 billion for wall construction as a part of an overall border security package of more than $30 billion.

GOP Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a key Trump adviser on immigration matters, didn’t mince words in his assessment of the proposal.

“Might as well roll it straight into the trash can … mass amnesty far beyond DACA, fake border security, no end to chain migration,” he tweeted Tuesday night.

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