US Congress takes up fate of 1.8 million young immigrants
Tuesday, February 13, 2018       00:33 WIB

Washington, Feb 12, 2018 (AFP)
The citizenship hopes of 1.8 million immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children hung in the balance Monday as Congress started up debate on sweeping new immigration legislation.
In offering a path to citizenship for the so-called Dreamers, President Donald Trump has exceeded the demands of opposition Democrats -- but only in exchange for tough cutbacks on overall immigration and funding for a massive wall on the Mexican border.
His proposal will be front and center as senators from both sides of the aisle begin an unpredictable process that could yield a long-sought breakthrough on immigration, or end in failure, with hundreds of thousands of immigrants at risk of losing their legal protections beginning March 5.
"It's a real debate on an issue where we really don't know what the outcome is going to be," Republican Senator Jeff Flake told NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday.
A group of conservative senators was to introduce a bill Monday that closely follows Trump's January proposals.
The Secure and Succeed Act offers a 10-12 year path to citizenship for the 1.8 million Dreamers.
But it will also end the popular "Green Card lottery," a 28-year-old program to diversify immigrant arrivals, and sharply limit family-based immigration.
In addition, it will allocate $25 billion for tougher immigration enforcement including the construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border that Trump promised during his 2016 election campaign.
"This is the only bill that has a chance of becoming law, and that's because it's the only bill that will truly solve the underlying problem," said Senator Tom Cotton, a lead sponsor of the legislation.
"This bill is generous, humane, and responsible, and now we should send it to the president's desk," Cotton said in a statement.
Several Democrats have suggested the Trump plan is dead on arrival, in large part because it would so dramatically curb legal immigration.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pledged to oversee an open-ended process by which both sides will be allowed to introduce amendments on immigration.
"Whoever gets to 60 wins," McConnell said last week, referring to the threshold for advancing most legislation in the 100-member chamber.
"There's no secret plan here to try to push this in any direction. The Senate is going to work its will, and I hope that we will end up passing something."
With the fate of the Dreamers in limbo, a bipartisan group of about 25 senators, which has become known as the "Common Sense Coalition" is trying to forge a compromise package.
The clock is ticking: nearly 700,000 Dreamers who are registered under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ( DACA ) program could begin losing protections from expulsion early next month after Trump scrapped the scheme.
The program's March 5 expiration date is not set in stone, however; a San Francisco judge's injunction has at least temporarily blocked removal of DACA protections ordered by Trump late last year.
- 'No amnesty' -
Cotton's bill could meet stiff resistance.
Democrats and some Republicans have opposed Trump's hardline stance, especially the restriction of family-based immigration to spouses and children, and massive funding for the border wall.
Trump's Democratic opponents had originally pushed only for a permanent solution for the 690,000 DACA registrants, in separate legislation.
By expanding the promise of citizenship to all 1.8 million DACA -eligible young immigrants -- and tying it to immigration cutbacks -- Trump has put the Democrats in a corner.
The president has blamed domestic terror attacks and violent crime on beneficiaries of the visa lottery and family-based "chain migration."
Should an immigration compromise pass the Senate, its fate in the House would remain unclear, in part because some conservatives oppose pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
"I've been very clear: no amnesty," House Republican Marsha Blackburn said on Twitter.
"We cannot have individuals get in the queue before others who have been going through the legal immigration process. Period."

Sumber : AFP