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- The White House announced it will release a bipartisan framework for an immigration plan this Monday.
- Senate Democrats are now faced with the prospect that they will have to allow for funding of a partial border wall in order to give President Donald Trump a bill he would sign into law.
WASHINGTON – Congress is moving forward with a bipartisan plan to address both border security and undocumented immigrants benefiting from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
While a foreseeable pathway to getting some kind of bill on the president’s desk faces significant hurdles, Democrats are facing an inevitability regarding the immigration issue: funding for President Donald Trump’s long-desired wall along the US-Mexico border will have to be included.
The White House announced on Wednesday its intent to release a “legislative framework Monday that represents a compromise that members of both parties can support,” adding that it “will fulfill the four agreed-upon pillars: securing the border and closing legal loopholes; ending extended-family chain migration; canceling the visa lottery, and providing a permanent solution on DACA.”
Democrats are beginning to embrace the possibility of having to fund the wall in a compromise
The inclusion of a wall and fencing along significant portions of the southern US border will be something most Democrats will have to stomach if they want a bill that Trump will sign – they just do not want to call it a wall.
“First of all, using the construction of the border is a term that I think is not the correct term. Will there have to be robust border security? Yes. Will it involve some segments of barrier? Yes,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, who serves as the top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security Committee. “But to say a border wall, it conjures up the image of sea to shining sea wall and I don’t think anybody in Washington thinks that’s gonna happen, including the president’s chief of staff.”
Alabama Sen. Doug Jones told Business Insider that he assumes funding for wall construction will be in the compromise, but that it is too early to get into the specifics.
“I will tell you this, I think there’s gonna be more money for border security,” Jones said. “How that’s gonna be done, I don’t know.”
“It’s always been inevitable that we’re gonna fund border security,” said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp when asked about wall and fencing construction on the border.
Sen. Jon Tester of Montana told Business Insider that he would be open to wall funding in an immigration bill as long as Congress retains its oversight of how the taxpayer money would be spent.
“It depends on what he’s talking about. If he’s talking about a lump sum figure that says here just go spend it, I am not gonna be in favor of that,” Tester said. “If it’s about making sure that Congress has oversight on how that money is spent and making sure that there’s accountability, I’ll certainly take a look at that.”
Disagreeing with her colleagues is Sen. Kamala Harris, who said specific funding for a partial border wall does not have to be in a final deal.
Any compromise will include additional border security enhancements
Republican Sen. Tom Cotton told Business Insider that “of course” wall funding will be in a bipartisan compromise, adding that he hopes Democrats “come to their senses” on the issue.
“But it’s much more than just money for the southern border,” Cotton said. “It also needs to be new legal authorities so the border patrol can actually handle illegal immigrants when they’re apprehended. Northern border states have some concerns as well.”
Cotton also seemingly acknowledged that a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients would be part of the compromise, a position many immigration hawks have been hesitant to support.
“And then of course if DACA recipients are gonna be legalized – and especially receive citizenship – we’re gonna have to address the chain migration issue and limit family sponsorships to spouses and unmarried minor children,” he said.
“[Democrats] are obsessed with that topic but it is clearly part of a system of border security infrastructure that everybody agrees is necessary,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn.
Allowing Trump to get of one of his signature campaign promises might be a tough pill to swallow. But the wall has become a central pillar in the immigration debate, on which the bipartisan Senate coalition is moving at a rapid pace ahead of the president’s March 5 deadline to resolve the DACA issue.