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Senators begin to outline bipartisan ‘Dreamer’ plan as open debate begins

While the Senate formally opened debate on the issue of immigration, it began the day where it left off on Monday: no clear bill or direction for protecting "Dreamers." As President Trump pressed Congress to follow his four criteria for an immigration bill, a large bipartisan group of senators said they had agreed on a more narrow approach. Lisa Desjardins reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    But, first, Capitol Hill correspondent Lisa Desjardins tees up the immigration battle playing out on Capitol Hill.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The Senate's day began where the last ended: no clear bill or direction for protecting so-called dreamers, immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. One positive, the Senate formally opened debate on the issue.

    Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stressed passing a bill isn't enough, that the president must sign it.

  • Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.:

    The president has made clear what principles must be addressed if we are going to make a law, instead of merely making political points.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    In a statement, President Trump urged lawmakers to — quote — "oppose any legislation" that doesn't include his four pillars approach.

    But as the president met with supportive senators, it wasn't clear his plan could get enough votes. That sparked the real action of the day. A large group of bipartisan senators meeting in Senator Susan Collins' office told "NewsHour" they had agreed on a different approach.

    Rather than try to navigate all four of the president's pillars, this bipartisan plan goes narrow, to the bottom-line two. It offers a path to citizenship for dreamers and at least $25 billion for border security. It would limit family migration, but only for dreamers. Their parents wouldn't be eligible for legal status through their children.

    In the Senate chamber, no sign of all the frenzy happening behind the scenes, but plenty of rhetorical line-drawing. Texas Republican Ted Cruz slammed any path to citizenship for dreamers.

  • Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas:

    I think it is a real mistake for the Senate to be considering amnesty and a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million people here illegally, or for two million or three million.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    And Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer insisted the president has blocked viable compromise.

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.:

    If, at the end of the week, we are unable to find a bill that can pass, the responsibility will fall entirely on the president's shoulders and those in this body who went along with him

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Meanwhile, in the House, Republican leaders there sent a message to the right, whipping or counting votes on a conservative option.

  • Man:

    The Goodlatte-McCaul bill is a bill that we're going to be whipping today.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That bill would offer legal status, but not citizenship, for dreamers. And it would sharply cut the amount of legal immigration overall. But that plan also seems short on votes for now.

    Speaker Paul Ryan indicated next steps are unclear.

  • Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.:

    We clearly need to address this issue in March. I will just leave it at that.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The end on this issue is uncertain, as is an end date for the DACA program protecting dreamers. President Trump ordered it to close March 5, but two federal judges have temporarily blocked that order.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Lisa Desjardins at the U.S. Capitol.

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