Trump’s Border Wall, Deportation Plans Face Pushback from GOP

Laura Litvan, Bloomberg, December 30, 2016

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Three Republican senators are working with Democrats to shield about 750,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation if Trump cancels a 2012 order from President Barack Obama that let them stay in the U.S.

Lawmakers want to “ensure that children who were brought here by their parents, through no fault of their own, are able to stay and finish their education and continue to contribute to society,” said Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona. Republicans Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska are joining him on a measure drafted by the No. 2 Democratic leader, Dick Durbin of Illinois, that will be introduced after the new Congress convenes Jan. 3.

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But among lawmakers in Congress, the desire to build a wall along the entire 1,933-mile border with Mexico has evaporated. Republicans in both chambers instead support more fencing, border patrol agents, drones and other resources to curb illegal entry. House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul said he’ll offer a bill with some of those steps in January.

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In a Time magazine interview in early December, Trump didn’t back off a promise to cancel Obama’s executive orders on immigration. But he also said he’ll seek a solution on young undocumented immigrants—known as “Dreamers” after failed legislation to protect them—that will “make people happy and proud.”

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Among the pivotal Republican senators who disagree with Trump is John McCain of Arizona, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee. McCain highlighted his split with Trump’s approaches during a Dec. 20-21 trip to Mexico, where he discussed the U.S. relationship with its southern neighbor with Mexico’s Interior Minister and other government officials.

While there, McCain said he holds the view of most Senate Democrats that any border security changes should be part of a broader immigration measure to address the status of some or all of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. He helped author a immigration bill along those lines in 2013 that the Senate passed but the House didn’t take up.

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In the Senate, Homeland Security and Government Reform Chairman Ron Johnson says he isn’t in a hurry. He says he wants to wait until the confirmation of retired Marine General John Kelly, Trump’s choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security, and to work with him on a proposal.

In the meantime, Johnson recently returned from a trip to Israel to discuss border security with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and examine nearly 160 miles of steel fencing that separates Israel from the Sinai. Johnson estimates it might cost the U.S. about $4 billion to build something similar along portions of the border with Mexico, and wants to consider whether Israel’s approach offers a model.

“I’m interested in passing a bill that will actually work,” said Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican. “It may take a little more time and a little more thought.”

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