Sen. Jeff Flake is trying to meet President Donald Trump halfway on immigration.
The Arizona senator and Trump foil will on Tuesday file an immigration amendment that mirrors some of the contours of the president's plan. It will go further than some Democrats would like like in tweaks to legal immigration and not as far as some border hawks will prefer, according to a summary provided to POLITICO.
The amendment appears to be a step toward the center of the GOP and away from the bipartisan Gang of Six talks Flake entered into last month. That is a legislative acknowledgment that any bill to protect recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program must reflect the GOP majorities in Congress and Trump's presence in the White House to become law.
The legislation will provide Trump's requested $25 billion in money for a border trust fund, allowing $1.8 billion in annual border improvements. It also will give a 10- to 12-year pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million young immigrants, harmonizing with the number the president has proposed. And the bill makes major changes to legal immigration, though it doesn't go as far as what Trump's framework envisions.
The bill would limit family-based immigration, barring young immigrants from sponsoring their parents for gaining legal status. Instead, family-based immigration would be limited to spouses and children of people eligible for DACA. Visas would be provided first to the family-sponsored immigrants program, then to high-skilled immigrants under Flake's bill.
But rather than get rid of the diversity lottery program altogether as Trump proposes, Flake would reallocate 25,000 visas to employment-based immigration and 25,000 for the family-sponsored backlog, which was nearly 4 million last year, according to the State Department.
Flake is also readying a fallback plan if nothing major can pass the Senate that would provide some border funding while protecting people enrolled in the DACA program from deportation for three years.