Senator Jeff Flake isn’t giving up on immigration reform. The junior Senator from Arizona said that he plans to force a vote on a proposal as soon as the Senate returns from its winter recess after next week. Flake proposed a fallback option for immigration reform last week when it looked like larger plans being put forth by Senators from both sides of the aisle were going to fall through.
A Republican plan that would’ve granted a pathway to citizenship for 3 million undocumented immigrants and funded border security with up to $25 billion failed to get enough votes to pass out of the Senate. So did a bipartisan plan that also offered DACA recipients a pathway to citizenship and included border wall funding, albeit on stricter conditions. Critics said that bill placed tight restrictions on the groups of undocumented immigrants the Department of Homeland Security could deport.
Flake’s backup proposal would provide $7.6 billion in border wall funding over three years in return for a three-year extension on the DACA program. Many Senators believe that taking a piecemeal approach might be the key to success.
“One of the things I repeatedly said is that: ‘The fallback position might have been better structured as three and three.’ Three years of [border wall] funding for three years of codification of DACA,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) said.
An alternative plan gaining favor with the White House calls for $25 billion in border wall funding in exchange for permanently extending DACA. DACA recipients would have to reapply to the program every two years.
DACA officially expires on March 5 although several U.S. courts have struck down the cancellation of the program by the President, saying it must stay in place until pending lawsuits are ruled on.
Flake said that he will continue pushing for a vote on his plan, and that he believes it’s something he can get bipartisan support for. “I’ll just keep at it. I do think that’s something the Democrats can go for,” he said.