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Flake: Bipartisan deal reached on immigration - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Flake: Bipartisan deal reached on immigration

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A bipartisan group of senators has struck a deal on legislation that would shield hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., told reporters Thursday.

"We've got this bipartisan group, we're at a deal," the senator said, according to NBC News. "So we'll be talking to the White House about that and I hope we can move forward with it. It's the only game in town. There's no other bill."

Shortly after Flake's comments, a spokesman for Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said talks were still ongoing, according to Reuters. Durbin is a member of the bipartisan group and an early proponent of legislation to shield those immigrants.

It is unclear what a Senate bill would contain. It is also not clear whether a deal struck by the six senators in the working group would get support from the rest of the chamber, the White House or more conservative House.

Flake said he expects a bill to get released by the end of the week. However, he doubts it could get passed by Jan. 19, the deadline that Democrats have set as a target to pass an immigration plan as part of a deal to avoid a government shutdown.

Democrats' insistence on passing an immigration bill by the funding deadline has raised concerns about the possibility of a government shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he wants to address DACA and keeping the government open in separate pieces of legislation.

Republicans have sought some form of funding for measures to curb illegal immigration as part of a deal. On Wednesday, President Donald Trump insisted on an agreement that includes funding for his proposed border wall, a day after he told bipartisan lawmakers he would sign whatever they passed.

Flake is part of a bipartisan group of senators seeking a legislative solution after Trump ended the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. If Congress cannot extend the protections for the young immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children, they could face deportation after the program starts to expire on March 5.

On Wednesday, several House Republicans released their own hardline immigration bill. The plan would aim to limit family-based or so-called chain migration, end the visa lottery system and beef up border security measures.

Democrats are unlikely to agree to some of those measures.

On Thursday, Flake said the physical structure Trump has called for does not need to be a "wall" but "more of a fence." He stressed the need for "surveillance" and "manpower" in tandem with that.

DACA shielded nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation and allowed them to work legally in the United States. Democrats and many Republicans in Congress support legislation enshrining those protections.

Some hardline supporters of Trump — who ran on a pledge to crack down on immigration — have criticized his talks about a bipartisan DACA solution.

The Trump administration recently set an $18 billion price tag over a decade for the border wall — a hefty bill, especially for budget-minded Republicans.

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