A top Senate Democrat has suggested that President Donald Trump has impeded the ability of Congress to reach a deal to protect young undocumented immigrants from deportation.
“Nailing the President down has been next to impossible,” Senator Dick Durbin, a key immigration negotiator, told reporters. “And even when we have an agreement we think it lasts only for hours before he throws it out and starts it again.”
A much-anticipated Senate floor debate over immigration is expected to commence this week.
Congress has three weeks to approve a permanent legislative fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme, which Mr Trump rescinded last September.
The Obama-era policy lets young immigrants who were brought to the US illegally as minors – so-called Dreamers – live and work in the US without fear of deportation.
Mr Durbin has said he is unsure whether senators can reach an agreement that will receive the 60 votes needed for the bill to clear the chamber. There is also question over whether an immigration bill will be able to pass in the House of Representatives.
“Time is not on our side,” Mr Durbin said. “We need to face a deadline. We know the issues. Let’s get it done.”
Mr Trump has offered a proposal that would grant about 1.8m Dreamers legal status, including a path to citizenship – in exchange for increased immigration enforcement, the construction of his long-promised border wall, and a restructuring of legal immigration channels that moves away from reuniting families and gives priority to higher-skilled immigrants.
The wall, which is popular among Mr Trump’s base of supporters, has been a sticking point in immigration negotiations.
In his budget proposal released on Monday, Mr Trump has asked Congress to allocate $23bn toward border security – most of it for the construction of the wall.
On Monday, Mr Trump said “we start very serious DACA talks today.”
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