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President Donald Trump addresses the press at the White House on Monday, February 12. Photo: EFE-EPA
President Donald Trump addresses the press at the White House on Monday, February 12. Photo: EFE-EPA

A key week for Dreamers

The US Senate will address the future of the 'dreamers' in the first immigration debate of the last five years.

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The United States Senate set the stage on Monday to hold an open debate on the controversial issue of immigration, giving lawmakers the opportunity to start from scratch the search of a proposal that could get the 60 votes necessary for its approval.

Considered as a “historic” debate - for being the first on this topic in five years – it aims to get Republicans and Democrats to reach an agreement on the fate of the DACA program (the thousands of undocumented immigrants who entered the country when they were minors) and avoid thus another forced government shutdown.

Last September, President Donald Trump ordered the elimination of the so-called DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program implemented by former President Barack Obama to give protected status to all those immigrants who had entered the country undocumented when they were under 16 years of age.

Currently, there are about 800,000 DACA beneficiaries in the US (popularly called "Dreamers"), mostly of Mexican origin. The DACA permit was temporary and could be renewed every two years, as long as they had not committed any crime. Now, the future of them all hangs in the balance. Trump has given the Congress until March 5 to find a new solution for Dreamers, but the situation remains stuck in an eternal debate between Republicans and Democrats (which led to the first government shutdown in January).

Until today, President Trump's strategy, with Republican support, was to use the Dreamers' future as a bargaining chip to get Democrats to support their $ 25 billion investment plan for border security, including the construction of a wall with Mexico.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised the Democrats on Monday a discussion on immigration in exchange for his willingness to end a forced government shutdown in hopes of getting Republicans to approve a permanent solution for the Dreamers.

One of the alternatives that Trump recently presented to Dreamers is an immigration plan that includes a path to citizenship for approximately 1.8 million undocumented youth while demanding the 25,000 million to build his wall with Mexico.

The president's proposal would also impose new significant limits on legal immigration by restricting the issuance of family reunification visas and eliminating the system lottery visas.

While seven Senate Republicans have written a draft that incorporates Trump's priorities, Democrats - and some moderate Republicans - are adamantly opposed to the White House's position, as EFE reported.

With the Senate divided 51-49 between Republicans and Democrats, no bill can get the 60 votes needed without bipartisan support.

Trump has said he will not sign legislation that does not include money for the wall and limits family migration.

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