- The Washington Times - Monday, January 21, 2019

Senate Republicans on Monday released the text of their bill to carry out President Trump’s new immigration plan to end the government shutdown, saying they’re intent on holding an initial vote later this week.

The bill, dubbed “End the Shutdown and Secure the Border Act,” includes Mr. Trump’s $5.7 billion request for border fencing and a new $12.7 billion disaster relief package, combined with bills to reopen nine government departments that have been without money for a month.

It would also grant a three-year amnesty from deportation to about 1 million migrants who are currently here under executive actions, but whose legal status beyond that is highly questionable. That includes some 700,000 illegal immigrant “Dreamers” who are protected by the Obama-era DACA program and another 325,000 migrants who are under a tentative humanitarian protected status.

The bill also includes funding for a daily average of 52,000 detention beds to hold immigrants awaiting deportation. That’s in line with Mr. Trump’s request, but far more than Democrats have said they are willing to accept. A new contingent of 750 Border Patrol agents is also part of the plan — which Democrats have also been cool to.

And the legislation includes changes to the law to allow for children from key Central American countries to apply for asylum from outside the U.S. — but in exchange, it allows the government to speed up deportations for illegal immigrant children from Central American who sneak into the U.S., putting them on par with children from Mexico who are already subject to expedited removals.

The bill, introduced by Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, runs to 1,301 pages.

“The president has proposed a serious compromise to end this shutdown,” Mr. Shelby said. “It would not only fund the government and secure the border, but also provide immigration reforms the Democrats have long supported.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could bring it to the chamber floor Tuesday and force an initial vote to head off a Democratic filibuster Thursday.

But Democratic leaders have already signaled resistance to the plan even before seeing the details, based on the outline Mr. Trump announced over the weekend.

Prodded by left-wing activists and immigrant-rights advocates, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called the concept of a border wall “an immorality” and has said she won’t approve any new money for the project.

Democrats also object to changes to speed up deportations from within the U.S., arguing the children and families attempting to jump the border aren’t illegal immigrants as much as they are refugees from a rough life back home, who deserve a chance to make a claim for protection here.

Instead, Democrats say they want to focus on drug trafficking at the border, and they have proposed more customs officers and scanning technology to man the land border crossings where they say most of those hard drugs transit.

A bill to reopen the government’s shuttered departments, combined with those more limited border measures, is slated for a vote in the House this week.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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