Flake Bill To Shield DACA Recipients Has Green Card Path, Border Funds

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, said his bill to extend DACA protections after benefits expire in March, while also calling for border spending is his attempt to “thread the needle to deliver exactly what the president asked for, what the Congress wants and what my constituents deserve.” (Photo by Ben Moffat/Cronkite News)

By Fraser Allan Best

WASHINGTON – Sen. Jeff Flake unveiled a proposal Thursday that would extend some protections for DACA recipients in exchange for border security funding and new restrictions on who could be eligible for deferred deportation.

The Arizona Republican’s “Border Security and Deferred Action Recipient Relief Act” joins an increasingly crowded field of bills that aim to replace elements of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that the Trump administration is dropping March 5.

In a statement on the Senate floor, Flake called his bill “the best way to thread the needle to deliver exactly what the president asked for, what the Congress wants and what my constituents deserve.”

“This bill offers solutions to the serious problems facing us on border security, while at the same time addressing the need for a legislative solution to the issues faced by those children brought here through no fault of their own,” Flake said, according to a release from his office.

Several immigration advocacy groups declined comment on Flake’s bill Thursday, saying they had not had time to study it.

The bill is a response to Trump administration’s decision to phase out the DACA program which currently protects an estimated 800,000 immigrants from deportation.

See related stories:

Under DACA, immigrants who were brought to this country illegally as children were allowed to apply for protection from deportation if they met several criteria, including a clean criminal record, and schooling or military service. The program did not change the immigrant’s citizenship status, but it did grant work authorization to DACA recipients.

Critics said the program, enacted by President Barack Obama through executive order after Congress failed to approve comprehensive immigration reform, was an example of executive overreach. That was the reason cited by Attorney General Jeff Sessions when he announced last month that the program was being revoked.

Immigrants who lose their DACA protection could be subject to deportation – although Department of Homeland Security officials have said they would remain a low priority – and would lose work authorizations.

But in announcing the “wind down” of the program, the administration said it would not start revoking DACA coverage until March 5, to give Congress time to work out a solution.

Flake’s bill is one of several that attempts to do that, from those that would extend and expand DACA protections to others that would include provisions for tighter border control.

Flake’s bill would grant a 10-year extension to DACA recipients who entered the country before 2012 – the year the original DACA program was approved – as long as they were working, enlisted in the military or going to school. At the end of the 10 years, they would be allowed to apply for a green card.

But Flake’s bill also calls for $1.6 billion in additional funding for border security, a provision he said was aimed at garnering Republican support for the bill.

Flake downplayed the size of the security spending outlined in the bill, saying he had effectively “just taken the $1.6 billion that the House already passed” and pinned it to a renewed DACA program.

“It’s something that I think the Democrats could live with,” he said in a conference call on the bill Thursday.

But some Democrats have specifically balked at proposals to tie DACA relief to border security, with Democratic Reps. Raul Grijalva of Tucson and Luis Gutierrez of Illinois threatening to try to hold up the federal budget in December if there is not a vote on a “clean” Dream Act.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi caused a stir last month when they said they had reached agreement with President Donald Trump to “enshrine” DACA protections into law while boosting border security – but without border wall funding. Trump and Republicans quickly challenged the claim that any deal had been reached.

Flake – who is a co-sponsor on the Senate version of the Dream Act – specifically calls for funds dedicated to “74 miles of border fortification,” a plan approved by the House earlier this year in the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act. His bill also highlights plans for the construction of additional access roads for Customs and Border Patrol along the southern border.

The bill also narrows eligibility requirement to only those immigrants who were brought here before 2012. Flake deflected questions about immigrants who entered the country after 2012 saying “people are always left out and you do the best you can.”

“You have to make some tradeoffs so I think that’s what will be done here,” Flake said, in response to reporters’ questions. “This is a legislative body where you compromise.”

About Cronkite News 2269 Articles
Cronkite News is the news division of Arizona PBS. The daily news products are produced by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. Senator Flake cannot be trusted on immigration issues. As he has stated on a number of occasions, one of his overriding aims is to curry political favor with Hispanic voters because of the fact that they will continue to be a greater proportion of our population compared to white and black people (voters) for the foreseeable future. This particular proposal is unacceptable because it ties border security to a resolution of the DACA problem, a problem created by his political friend and ally, President Obama through an illegal Executive Order. The conservatives that elected Senator Flake to the Senate have been asking for a secure border AND enforcement of our current immigration laws for many years now and asked that this be accomplished BEFORE a regularization of the illegal immigrant issue because our politicians have shown they cannot be trusted to do the two things together. Tying a secure border to accommodation of those here illegally implies that there is some moral or legal relationship between the two. They are completely separate issues and there is no such relationship between the two. As citizens, we have a right under the constitution to demand that those we elect enforce our laws, not just the laws individual officials elected and appointed may approve of, but ALL THE LAWS, and that includes the laws regulating and securing our borders against illegal immigration.

  2. As far as I’m concerned, ALL DACA people who have carried Mexican flags or who have actively protested against this country should be deported. They’ve shown their loyalty, and it’s NOT America!

  3. This daca death is a great thing IMO. Just think they can go back to place of origin WITH all the educational knowledge accrued here and then begin to clean up the toilets they call their home ‘country’. They know or at least have seen the fruits of this country and they should be able to instill that knowledge into their fellow countrymen. Then the 3d world scenes seen everyday in media can be fixed with all they know. But I guess that would nto work as they would actually have to WORK and not get handouts for everything they want would it not? I heard one the other day at work complaining about trump in PR and that he is worthless and they really didnt think much of this country. Well they need to go back and fix theirs 1st I guess, and like I said this is such a great opportunity for them to EXCELL at something. Just think 1 million returnees and the existing governements would really have problems trying to exist as they are. Make hope and change their new motto in their places of origins, and IF their illegal parents return why that could be millions more to make their jobs easier.

  4. while my comments are being ‘cooked and moderated’ I’ll add a PS – Flake is done as far as my vote is concerned.

  5. An immigrant is a person that comes here under our laws and programs. Ilegals are not immigrants, snd should be taken out from under those laws. As well as not called an immigrant at any time.

  6. in my mind I am hoping for a solution to DACA that allows ‘qualifying’ immigrant children brought here a pathway to stay with a resident card or some other visa status that they can apply for citizenship. That those here by that status pay some means of entry – fee – taxes – service time – and oath to the United States *(no taking a knee, you desire and support the nation or don’t live here. I don’t think they should pay the consequence of their parents actions. They do need a way to live here. If there parents are going to be deported – they need to go with them. I would say offer them a Green Card – if there are sponsoring families that want to keep and care for them here, allow that to move forward. If the parents pay the entry price – conditions – allow them entry as well. This is where it gets slippery for it encourages more to cross. The law needs to have clause – this is it ‘no more’ of these types of late clauses. It also needs to state that if they cause issues, arrests, criminal activity etc. they are to be removed from the country. I would also hope that the immigration program itself would be vastly reconstructed so that workers etc. can obtain entry work programs into the nation. That what ever is set on this side of the nation – must be accepted and set on the other side as well. There are plenty of Americans living in Mexico – it’s difficult.

Comments are closed.