Advocacy groups want border-for-Dreamers deal ahead of Feb. 15 deadline

Advocacy groups want border-for-Dreamers deal ahead of Feb. 15 deadline
© Greg Nash
A diverse group of political and religious organizations is calling for legislators to avoid another partial government shutdown by pairing border security funds with permanent immigration benefits for so-called Dreamers.
 
 
In a Monday letter to the conference committee members tasked with crafting a spending deal by Feb. 15, the groups said "there is strong bipartisan support for legislation to provide certainty for the Dreamers – immigrants brought here as children."
 
"As you meet to develop solutions before the upcoming spending deadline on February 15th, we urge you to come together and deliver bipartisan legislation that pairs the certainty Dreamers need going forward with funds to enhance border security," they added.
 
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The groups include Koch network members Libre Initiative, Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners; the National Association of Evangelicals; the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities; the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; the conservative-leaning Hispanic Leadership Fund; the Niskanen Center; and immigration advocacy associations FWD.us and the National Immigration Forum.
 
"Despite our differences on important policy issues, we are joining together now to endorse this approach," they wrote. "The time is right to act. We urge lawmakers and the president to set aside partisan concerns and lead on this important goal immediately."
 
President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoint Chiefs chairman denies report that US is planning to keep 1K troops in Syria Kansas Department of Transportation calls Trump 'delusional communist' on Twitter Trump has privately voiced skepticism about driverless cars: report MORE is scheduled to give his State of the Union address on Tuesday, as conference committee members from both chambers aim to resolve the budget impasse that led to the recent 35-day shutdown, the longest in U.S. history.
 
Trump has vowed to close the government again if he doesn't receive $5.7 billion in border wall funding. Democrats have said they won't back a bill that provides money for a wall.
 
Immigration advocates have long sought a deal that would pair immigration benefits and protections for sectors of the undocumented population with requests for more border security.
 
A bipartisan proposal in that vein was hashed out last year by Reps. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdThe 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority Hillicon Valley: US threatens to hold intel from Germany over Huawei | GOP senator targets FTC over privacy | Bipartisan bill would beef up 'internet of things' security | Privacy groups seize on suspended NSA program | Tesla makes U-turn MORE (R-Texas) and Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarLeft flexes muscle in immigration talks Immigration groups press for pairing Dreamer benefits with border security Lawmakers haggling over border dollars much lower than Trump's demand MORE (D-Calif.), but was ultimately scrapped for a GOP version that failed in a House floor vote.
 
Pro-immigrant groups, especially those who maintain a working relationship with the White House, argue that a border-for-Dreamers bill could resolve the spending standoff that plagued the recent shutdown.
 
Those groups have insisted that any proposal for programs like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) include a permanent immigration status for Dreamers.
 
"The uncertainty of their status is a barrier that prevents them from reaching their full potential, limiting their ability to contribute fully to their families, their communities, and the only nation they call home," the groups wrote in Monday's letter.