`Common-Sense' Senators Ready to Tackle Trump's Immigration Plan

(Bloomberg) -- The “common-sense coalition” of senators that helped end the federal government shutdown will meet this week to consider President Donald Trump’s immigration proposal and make recommendations, Senator Susan Collins said.

Collins of Maine, a moderate Republican who’s emerged as the leader of a bipartisan group of 26 senators, said the goal is to find a way to help the undocumented immigrants called “Dreamers,” people brought to the U.S. illegally as children, and to beef up security on the southern U.S. border as Trump is demanding.

“All of us realize that it’s going to take a compromise on this issue for us to get something done,” Collins said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday,. The group plans to make recommendations to the leaders on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s border security and immigration subcommittee, Republican John Cornyn of Texas and Democrat Dick Durbin of Illinois. “I hope we can find a way forward,” Collins said.

Citizenship Pathway

Trump’s plan would offer deportation protection and a pathway to citizenship for as many as 1.8 million people under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA. In exchange, the White House wants $25 billion for construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall and for additional border and port security, and other actions on immigration.

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, also speaking on CNN, said the senators would meet Monday night to seek common ground, working off Trump’s template.

“The president’s laid out what he wants, that’s a good starting point,” Manchin said. “Let’s see if it’s something that we can agree on.”

Both Manchin and Collins said that additional border security is needed, though Collins said that doesn’t mean a physical wall across the entire southern border. Some people won’t agree with that, just as some won’t agree to a path for citizenship for the dreamers, she said.

‘Interested in Obstruction’

The president weighed in on immigration in two late-night tweets on Saturday, saying he has offered a “wonderful” deal because Republicans want to fix the problem and “to show that Democrats do not want to solve DACA, only use it!”

“Democrats are not interested in Border Safety & Security or in the funding and rebuilding of our Military,” Trump said on Twitter. “They are only interested in Obstruction!

The president also wants to limit a program that gives preferential status to the families of U.S. citizens and immigrants, and eliminate the visa lottery program.

The administration needs the ability to promptly stop people at the border and prevent companies that “consistently and persistently violate our laws” by hiring undocumented workers, Kirstjen Nielsen, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said in an interview from Davos, Switzerland that aired Sunday on Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”

She cited 7-Eleven as an example, following U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids on the convenience stores earlier this month.

Wall Funding

Marc Short, the White House legislative affairs director, said on “Fox News Sunday” that approving wall funding and other parts of the Trump’s proposal would prevent future clashes over young undocumented immigrants -- making them worthwhile trade-offs for offering a pathway to citizenship, which many conservatives decry.

“I think conservatives recognize the benefit to really securing our border and helping to fix these long-term problems,” Short said. “I think we’re going to get widespread support on our side.”

Short said the Trump’s administration is “anxious to solve the problem,” and that House and Senate Democratic leaders were using the issue “to play politics.”

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Trump made a credible offer and that he’s optimistic a deal can be struck that avoids another government shutdown -- if the president continues with the attitude he’s expressed in his proposal, and Democrats overcome their reluctance to work with him.

“Take a deep breath, we can get there,” Graham said on ABC’s “This Week” program.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.