Republican Jeff Flake hints at deal to let young immigrants stay in US

A photo taken on the US side of the border with Mexico shows "Dreamers" at a meet up with relatives at the border wall.
A photo taken on the US side of the border with Mexico shows "Dreamers" at a meet up with relatives at the border wall.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The Republican-led US Senate will take up a Bill next month to regularise the status of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children, a Republican senator said on Wednesday (Dec 20).

Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona wrote on Twitter that Congress's Upper Chamber will take up draft legislation that enjoys bipartisan support - seeming to imply that a compromise was being hammered out between Republicans, Democrats and the White House.

Any such deal would require some Republican support.

President Donald Trump said in September that he was scrapping the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme put in place by Barack Obama, but he delayed enforcement to give Congress six months to craft a lasting solution.

The measure had provided some 690,000 young immigrants, known as "Dreamers," with working papers while shielding them from expulsion.

Trump's decision and the uncertainty of congressional action have plunged the programme's beneficiaries - many of whom know only the United States as home - into limbo.

Democrats and many Republicans favour giving the immigrants legal status, but most Republicans, along with the White House, want the minority party to accept tougher border security measures in exchange for extending DACA's protections.

The Politico website reported that key Democratic and Republican senators met on Tuesday with White House chief of staff John Kelly to discuss the outlines of a compromise.

Democrats had hoped to take advantage of this week's intense budget wrangling to slip through a measure regularising DACA recipients, but the Republican majority refused to budge.

"No, we'll not be doing DACA this week," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News.

"That's a matter to be discussed next year."