Senate begins freewheeling immigration debate

| | Washington

The Senate has begun a freewheeling debate on the contentious issue of immigration reform, amid predictions that it could drag on for weeks in the hope of eventually producing a bipartisan Bill that can pass muster.

While seven Republican Senators led by Chuck Grassley introduced on Monday their Bill mirroring the framework set out by President Donald Trump, some more immigration Bills are also before the Senate. But the debate itself is not dealing with any single Bill at this stage. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s strategy right now is to allow the Senate to debate and vote on a variety of proposals before concluding which of the ideas stand the chance of clearing the 60-vote threshold in the 100-member Senate, where the Republicans have a slender majority of 51.

The Democrats’ focus is essentially on securing a deal for the 700,000 “Dreamers” brought illegally into the US as children. Another 1.1 million young immigrants are eligible for Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) but did not apply. The “Dreamers” could face deportation if a legislative fix is not hammered out by March 5. But President Trump and the Republican Senators by and large are firm on simultaneous action on other immigration issues, notably beefing up border security. With Trump’s insistence on the wall, the Republican Bill has proposed $25 billion for border security. It also wants to end the visa lottery programme and curtail family-based immigration, while promoting merit-based immigration.



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