Grassley offers DACA fix tied to tough enforcement measures
© Greg Nash

GOP senators are pushing forward with legislation that would extend an Obama-era program allowing young immigrants to live and work in the United States, while pairing it with new measures to bolster border security.

The legislation, introduced by Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyPavlich: The claim Trump let the mentally ill get guns is a lie Congress fails miserably: For Asian-Americans, immigration proposals are personal attacks Grassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees MORE (R-Iowa), allows the Trump administration to build “tactical and technological infrastructure” along the U.S.-Mexico border.

It would target funding for so-called sanctuary cities that don’t comply with federal immigration law, bolster the e-verify employment verification program and crack down on "chain migration" by limiting which family members U.S. citizens and permanent residents can try to sponsor for a green card. 

The bill would also incorporate a separate measure extending for three years the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows immigrants brought into the country illegally as children to work and go to school under certain conditions.

“After having these discussions, and after meeting with the president to get his input and his support, we’ve come up with a plan. This plan is fair to all parties. It’s pro-American. And it’s a solution to DACA,” Grassley said from the Senate floor as he introduced the Security, Enforcement and Compassion United in Reform Efforts, or SECURE, Act.

In addition to Grassley, the bill is backed by GOP Sens. John CornynJohn CornynLawmakers feel pressure on guns Kasich’s campaign website tones down gun language after Florida shooting Murphy: Trump’s support for background check bill shows gun politics ‘shifting rapidly’ MORE (Texas), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisPrison sentencing bill advances over Sessions objections Kimmel writer tweets amount NRA has given lawmakers in response to shooting prayers Both sides of immigration fight unhappy with Senate debate MORE (N.C.), James LankfordJames Paul LankfordAfter Florida school shooting, vows for change but no clear path forward GOP senator: 'The problem is not owning an AR-15' Sunday shows preview: Russian charges, Florida shooting dominate coverage MORE (Okla.), Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonGOP looks for Plan B after failure of immigration measures Senate rejects Trump immigration plan Our intelligence chiefs just want to tell the truth about national security MORE (Ark.) and David Perdue (Ga.).

The Trump administration announced in September that it would wind down the DACA program. It gave Congress until mid-March to come up with a legislative solution. If Congress fails to pass a bill, hundreds of thousands of immigrants will be at risk of being deported.

Senators have been jockeying over DACA for months, with the fight ratcheting up this month as several House Democrats and a growing number of progressive senators warn they will not support a government funding bill without a deal on the program.

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinAmerica’s waning commitment to the promise of the First Amendment Senate rejects Trump immigration plan What to watch for in the Senate immigration votes MORE (D-Ill.) immediately panned the GOP legislation on Tuesday, saying the bill is not a “good faith effort to provide protection for the Dreamers, including those who were enrolled in DACA."

“The laundry list of unrelated immigration bills which they have offered is designed to delay and stop any serious bipartisan effort to solve this crisis created by the Trump administration,” he said.

Durbin rejected an offer from Grassley and Cornyn that paired Cornyn’s border security bill with a DACA fix that did not include a path to citizenship.

Durbin countered with an offer that paired the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM, Act with roughly a dozen provisions from Cornyn's border security bill.

The DREAM Act, unlike DACA, includes a path to citizenship. But that's considered a nonstarter for many supporters in Trump’s base, which has warned him against breaking from the hardline immigration rhetoric used during his presidential campaign.

GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March Outgoing GOP rep: Republican Party 'heading into trouble' in election MORE (R-Ariz.) has been working with Durbin on trying to find a bipartisan agreement on the issue.