Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) believes the recent three-day government shutdown and the deal to end it on Monday gave Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and other illegal immigrant Dreamers “a better chance” of getting a pathway to citizenship.
Flake has been working with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) on a bill that would give a “12-year pathway to citizenship for about 2 million” illegal immigrant Dreamers and “legal status for their parents.” On Monday, Senate Democrats agreed to a three-week spending bill in exchange for a DACA vote before February 8.
“I do think that they have a better chance now to have a long-term solution instead of another short-term fix,” Flake reportedly told the Arizona Republic on Monday. “No guarantee, but a better chance.”
Flake said that without the three-week spending bill, his concern was that lawmakers would “get to March and just have a day or two to ram something through,” which, according to Flake, would have forced Congress just to pass another “short-term fix for those that are registered now [under DACA]” that would give them “basically a work permit and legal status for another year or so.”
During an immigration meeting at the White House earlier in the month, Graham asked Trump to “close the deal” on a broader amnesty bill, trying to convince Trump by playing to his ego and anti-Obama sentiment that he could sign an amnesty bill that even former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama were not able to sign. hat he could sign an amnesty bill that
“Obama couldn’t do it. Bush couldn’t do it. I think you can do it,” Graham told Trump during a recent bipartisan White House immigration meeting. “I’ve never been more optimistic about an immigration reform proposal making it to the president’s desk right now.”
Flake said the strategy now “should be to get 70 votes in the Senate” for a broader immigration measure and and then hope President Donald Trump “will pick it up.”
“With the president’s support, then the House will pass it,” he said. “But trying to divine what the president wants on immigration, and on DACA, has been impossible. It changes hourly.”
Flake pointed out that Trump has said that he would sign whatever Congress sends him on immigration before changing his mind.
“He has said different things at different times, but I think he would,” Flake said of a potential bill that would give illegal immigrant Dreamers a pathway to citizenship.