Sen. Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.) intends to introduce a short-term immigration bill when the Senate returns next week that will trade a temporary reprieve for beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in exchange for funding for President Donald Trump's push for more border security.
Flake's bill will propose to provide protection from deportation for the 690,000 DACA recipients for the next three years, the Weekly Standard reports. That program was terminated by President Donald Trump in September, with protections expected to lapse on March fifth unless Congress acts.
In return for the three year protection, Flake's bill would allocate $7.6 billion for a border security trust fund, a portion of the $25 billion the White House has called for to build Trump's much-touted southwestern border wall.
"I'll be the first to admit this ‘three for three' approach is far from a perfect solution, but it would provide a temporary fix by beginning the process of improving border security and ensuring DACA recipients will not face potential deportation," Flake wrote in the Washington Post.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R., Texas), who has led Senate Republicans' negotiations on immigrations, suggested to the Standard that a proposal like Flake's could find its way into upcoming omnibus budget appropriation talks. Congress will need to pass some form of funding by March 23rd in order to avoid a third government shutdown in three months.
But a compromise on the DACA issue, and immigration more broadly, has proved elusive in the Senate. In a series of votes last Thursday, that body rejected two bipartisan reform plans, as well as a bill modeled on the White House's proposal.
Even if Flake's proposals were to clear the Senate, it would likely need to meet with Trump's approval in order to pass muster in the House, never mind reach the President's desk. Trump had previously rejected a deal, proposed by Sens. John McCain (R., Ariz.) and Chris Coons (D., Del.) and voted down in the Senate on Thursday, which would trade a path to citizenship for DACA recipients for border funding, leaving out the White House's calls for reforms to chain migration and the diversity visa lottery.
If the White House doesn't sign on to Flake's plan, it is unlikely that the House will opt to support it over that proposed by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.), which similarly implements the president's plan. But Flake wrote in his op-ed that he was committed to bringing the issue up repeatedly before the Senate in the coming days.
"In the days following the introduction of this DACA extension, I'll be on the floor to offer a unanimous-consent request for an up-or-down vote. I can't promise that one of my colleagues won't object—effectively blocking such a vote—but I promise that I'll be back on the floor, again and again, motioning for a vote until the Senate passes a bill providing relief to those struggling," Flake wrote.