Sen. Charles E. Grassley on Tuesday blasted Democrats for holding up the immigration debate that they had demanded, saying they were the ones standing in the way of a path to citizenship for 1.8 million “Dreamers.”
“This is what they have been pleading for,” said Mr. Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Iowa Republican gave an impassioned defense of his immigration bill that is the only one in the Senate backed by President Trump.
“The Democrats have been pleading for months and months and months for justice for this and you have a compassionate president who has gone way beyond what anybody thought he would do, why would they turn it down,” he told reporters.
More than two dozen bills have been introduced from both sides for what Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer promised would be a freewheeling debate.
The Senate took up immigration Monday but has yet to begin the debate on how to fix Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, the Obama-era temporary protection from deportation for Dreamers who came illegally to the U.S. as minors.
Mr. Trump called for more border security and limits on legal immigration to prevent another Dreamer crisis in the future, measures that Democrats oppose.
Mr. Grassley said his bill would still be open for amendments once it reached the floor.
But first it needs to get 60 votes.
Senate Democrats have withheld support, and several Republicans are expected to defect.
Mr. Grassley insisted that there should be enough bipartisan support to get to 60 votes and that unanimous GOP support shouldn’t be required.
“It’s got to have 60 votes. That can include Democrats and lose some Republicans,” he said. “There’s some Republicans who don’t want to do anything on immigration.”
Earlier, Mr. Trump announced his support of the Grassley bill because it addresses the four pillars of this framework.
The Gassley bill would allot $25 billion to build a border wall, end to the catch-and-release policies for illegal immigrants, speed up deportations for visitors who visa overstays, and permanently authorizing the E-Verify system that some businesses use to check their workers’ legal status.
It would also eliminate the Diversity Visa Lottery.