WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of US senators said on Thursday that they have reached an agreement in principle on legislation to protect young undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers” from deportation while simultaneously boosting border security.
The White House does not yet seem to have accepted the arrangement.
The six senators in the group – including Republicans Lindsey Graham, Jeff Flake and Cory Gardner and Democrats Dick Durbin, Michael Bennet and Robert Menendez – released a statement on the plan, adding that they are working to build support for the deal in Congress.
“We have been working for four months and have reached an agreement in principle” to protect the so-called Dreamers, the group said in a statement.
The agreement also “addresses border security, the diversity visa lottery, chain migration/family reunification, and the Dream Act – the areas outlined by the president,” the group said.
Trump has linked any bill to replace the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – which shielded from deportation hundreds of thousands of young undocumented migrants brought to the US as children – to increasing border security, eliminating the visa lottery and doing away with chain migration, whereby permanent residents may bring their relatives into this country from abroad.
A Senate official requesting anonymity told EFE that the agreement includes more than $1 billion for building a physical barrier along the US-Mexico border, as well as financing for additional border security technology.
The agreement would also provide a path to citizenship for more than a million young undocumented migrants, a figure exceeding the 800,000 people who had been protected under DACA until Trump ended the program last year.
In addition, the pact would protect from deportation the parents of Dreamers and let them obtain work permits, although they would not be able to obtain US citizenship, according to the Senate official.
The agreement also would reassign half the 50,000 visas granted each year under the visa lottery to benefit people who had to date enjoyed Temporary Protected Status, including citizens of El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and Sudan, the source said.
The other half of the visas would be reserved for immigrants who can demonstrate professional skills, with Trump having said that he wants visa granted on the basis of “merit.”
According to The Washington Post, Trump met with Democratic and Republican senators on Thursday and Graham and Durbin presented the details of their plan to him.
The daily reported – citing two people briefed on the meeting – that Trump was not very receptive to the idea of reassigning visas to TPS beneficiaries from poor or struggling countries, preferring to favor immigrants from countries like “Norway.”