WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate begins work on an immigration plan this week. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell will bring a so-called shell bill to the floor, and senators from both parties will present amendments to enact immigration reforms.
While debate on the senate floor just began, there’s really no clear indication of how this will end.
Immigration has long been one of the most difficult issues for Washington to tackle. But competing factions in a divided Congress leave many questions about the path forward.
Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton is the sponsor of a plan he says follows the priorities of President Donald Trump.
It grants a path to citizenship for 1.8 million immigrants known as “dreamers” who were brought to the country illegally as children.
It also allocates $25 billion for border security while cutting legal immigration in half.
“That’s a balanced package that’s generous on the one hand but also responsible on the other and I hope that’ll be what Congress passes,” Sen. Cotton says.
But some worry cuts to immigration will slow the economy and prevent families from reuniting.
“What we would like to have is a vote on a clean dream act without any additions,” says Richard Morales, PICO National Network, who also opposes the increased border security.
“A lot of that money is going to be used to separate families, to deport long term residents,” he continues.
With opinions so far apart…reaching a compromise could be difficult.
Senate leadership is promising an open debate where multiple proposals can be heard.
“If the Democrats want to make a deal, it’s really up to them,” says President Trump.
The president puts the onus on Democrats but differences among Republicans could also pose challenges and Senate rules will require bipartisan support to get an immigration overhaul approved.
The Senate Majority Leader says he’ll devote at least two weeks on the floor to the immigration debate. That will allow all sides to be heard…but there are no guarantees for consensus.