Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Saturday that he is open to a deal that would codify protections for so-called DREAMers in exchange for improvements to border security or other changes to the immigration system.
“Yeah, the Democrats desperately want DACA. Republicans are not necessarily opposed to that,” McConnell told conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt on his MSNBC program.
“I think there ought to be something related to making the American legal immigration system better, achieved along with DACA,” he added. “It could be border security. It could be ending chain migration. It could be the diversity quotas. But something that tangibly improves the legal immigration system in this country, I think, ought to be attached to DACA. ”
The comments are among McConnell’s first on what he would like to see in any agreement surrounding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which grants work permits and deportation relief to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children.
President Donald Trump announced in September he would end the Obama-era program with a six-month delay, which McConnell called “an incentive to act.”
Top congressional Democrats have said they are open to an immigration deal that couples relief for Dreamers with border security enhancements, though they have ruled out supporting funding for a wall along the U.S-Mexican border.
Diversity quotas have received renewed attention after a terror attack in New York City on Oct. 31 by a native of Uzbekistan.
Federal prosecutors said the attacker, Sayfullo Saipov, entered the U.S. through the diversity lottery program, which has been around in some form since the 1980s and favors prospective immigrants who come from countries that have sent relatively few immigrants to the U.S. in recent years.
By Brent D. Griffths for POLITICO
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