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DACA Fix Hinges on Border Security Agreement That Schumer Says Must be 'Reasonable'

Immigration rights protesters rallying for a DACA fix gather on the Senate steps on Dec. 6, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said today that he’s “confident” the new year will bring a bipartisan agreement to spare Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals beneficiaries from deportation.

Cornyn said on the Senate floor today that he believes “both sides can come to an agreement regarding the legal status of this roughly 800,000 individuals who were brought to the country illegally while they were still quite young, and that includes 124,000 DACA recipients in my state of Texas alone.”

“Many of these individuals make valuable contributions and should not be penalized for decisions made by their parents – the legal ramifications of which they could not at such a young age fully understand or consent to,” the senator added. “But any such agreement must include corresponding measures regarding enforcement of our immigration laws.”

President Trump tweeted Tuesday: “Democrats are doing nothing for DACA – just interested in politics. DACA activists and Hispanics will go hard against Dems, will start ‘falling in love’ with Republicans and their President! We are about RESULTS.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that the tweet indicated Trump “wants to have responsible immigration reform.”

“He said before that he would like to include a DACA resolution in that process and we hope to be able to work with members of Congress to get that done, and that’s certainly a big priority for the administration in 2018,” Sanders said.

Asked for specifics, Sanders replied, “Look, we’ve laid out what our principles on immigration reform look like and that would need to be part of any package that includes DACA.”

On the Senate floor today, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said DACA beneficiaries came forward to apply for the program once it was implemented by President Obama because “above all else, they wanted to be Americans, they don’t know another country.”

“Now we are faced with a deadline. In a few months, protections for DREAMers will evaporate. Already, 1,000 DREAMers are losing protected status a week. It’s time that Congress pass DACA protections into law and fix this once and for all,” he said, adding that Dems led by DREAM Act sponsor Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) “have said several times that we’re ready to negotiate a reasonable border security package to pass alongside DACA.”

“We believe in border security. We want to make it work, we want to make it real, not just symbolic. But we believe in it,” Schumer added. “If our Republican colleagues and the president engage in good faith in that negotiation — without unreasonable demands like the absurdly expensive and ineffective border wall that publicly many Republicans oppose and privately many more do — I do not doubt that we can reach an agreement on DACA that’s acceptable to both sides.”

In his own floor remarks, Durbin pleaded with colleagues on both sides of the aisle “to get this job done, not just for the 780,000 who took advantage of President Obama’s executive order, but for those who were eligible and afraid — let’s give them the same opportunity to be part of the future of this great nation.”

House Deputy Whip Tom Cole (R-Okla.) told CNN on Tuesday that “anybody that thinks you are getting an immigration fix without enhanced border security is just whistling past a political graveyard.”

“In some places, walls make sense, some places, they may not, but we can make a big step in the right direction. And, again, you know, I don’t consider these young people a problem, but the issue with DACA is because you didn’t have border control in the first place. That’s why you have all these young folks,” Cole said.

“And they ought to get legal status in my view, but the obvious tradeoff is stronger border security, and the president is right on that one. Democrats need to come around, or, you know, they may decide they want a political issue. But in the meantime, we’re putting hundreds of thousands of people at risk that in my view shouldn’t be at risk.”