McCain Backs Immigration Bill Blasted As ‘Waste Of Time’ By Trump

A stretch of border wall near Nogales. Immigration reform bills in the House and Senate are calling for more high-tech border security technology and a detailed report on the feasibility of a wall, drawing the ire of President Donald Trump. (Pnoto by Sophia Kunthara/Cronkite News)

By Kyley Schultz

WASHINGTON – Sen. John McCain introduced a bill Monday that gives DACA recipients a path to citizenship and calls for beefed-up border security – but excludes border wall funding, causing the president to brand it a “waste of time.”

The bill by McCain, an Arizona Republican, and Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, mirrors a bipartisan House bill that would protect Dreamers while calling for stronger border security through “the most practical and effective technology available by 2020,” such as radar surveillance, drones and seismic detection tools.

Before the bill had even been introduced, however, President Donald Trump was tweeting his displeasure.

“Any deal on DACA that does not include STRONG border security and the desperately needed WALL is a total waste of time,” Trump tweeted Monday morning. “March 5th is rapidly approaching and the Dems seem not to care about DACA. Make a deal!”

March 5 is the date Trump set for the expiration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, the Obama-era program that protected about 800,000 immigrants who were brought to this country illegally when they were children.

That’s not the only deadline Congress faces. The latest federal budget extension is set to expire at midnight Thursday, triggering a government shutdown if lawmakers cannot agree on another extension – something that happened last month when Senate Democrats and Republicans failed to compromise on immigration.

Congressional leaders have said they expect to avoid a shutdown this week. But Coons and McCain said the immigration issue needs to be dealt with, so that lawmakers can focus on a long-term budget plan instead of continued short-term extensions.

“It’s time we end the gridlock so we can quickly move on to completing a long-term budget agreement that provides our men and women in uniform the support they deserve,” McCain in a prepared statement with Coons.

The Senate proposal mirrors a bipartisan House bill, the Uniting and Securing America (USA) Act, whose 54 co-sponsors were split evenly between Democrats and Republicans. All four Arizona Democratic House members have signed on to the bill, but none of the state’s Republicans have signed on so far.

The bills would create a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients who have been here continuously since Dec. 31, 2013, who were under 18 when they were brought to the country and who meet other requirements, such as keeping a clean record. The bills also call for hiring more judges to clear up immigration court backlogs.

The bulk of the 66-page bill deals with border security.

Rather than directly funding Trump’s proposed border wall, the bill would give the Department of Homeland Security more resources to “deploy the most practical and effective technology available by 2020,” such radar surveillance, seismic detection tools and more.

The department would also have to report back to Congress within a year with a comprehensive border strategy, including an inventory of current systems and projected per-mile costs of alternatives, such as a wall.

“The bill I’m introducing with Senator McCain today doesn’t solve every immigration issue, but it does address the two most pressing problems we face: protecting DACA recipients and securing the border,” Coons said in the statement with McCain.

“I believe there is bipartisan support for both of those things and I believe that we can reach a budget deal that increases funding for our military and important domestic programs,” Coons’ statement said.

But this bill is just the latest of many that have been introduced, all of which face an uphill climb, said Theresa Brown of the Bipartisan Policy Center.

-Cronkite News video by Ariana Bustos

“Like every other potential immigration deal out there, where do the votes come from” Are there enough votes for this between the Republicans and Democrats? Will the President sign it?” said Brown, the director of immigration and cross-border policy at the center.

“It’s not clear which of the various proposals, deals, un-deals and frameworks can actually garner the majorities in the House and the Senate,” she said.

The White House has said any proposal from Congress would have to meet four goals: protecting DACA recipients, securing the border, ending the visa lottery system and ending family migration, derided by opponents as “chain migration.”

The administration released a plan last month that called for a multiyear path to citizenship for as many as 1.8 million DACA recipients and a $25 billion trust fund for a “border wall system.”

But architects from Southwestern states have gone on record opposing a wall until details on its scope and cost are provided.

“We first need to admit that there is not a definitive wall proposal – there’s an idea of a wall, but we don’t know where it would be built, how long it is, how tall it is or what it’s made of,” said Robert Miller, president of the Arizona chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

“We don’t even know what the performance criteria is or who is paying for it. We really don’t know if the wall is going to be successful or not until a finalized proposal is done,” Miller said in a phone interview Monday.

Coons and McCain acknowledge that their bill does not address all of the president demands, including the visa lottery and family-based immigration, but are hopeful that their plan can act as a “foundation for future conversations.”

– Cronkite News reporters Ariana Bustos and Shelby Lindsay contributed to this report.

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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. Hey John, elections have consequences, remember? Please quit introducing bills that you know will go nowhere. I suggest you step aside and focus on your health and the grandkids.

  2. Ya know this could be a win win situation if done right. Send the illegals home to include the daca bunch. they have a free american education (supposedly) and the few that are college graduates can do great things for thier country of origin. The know the american institutions and with their educations can start the countries down the path of goodness as they see it. They had the american dream so help the less fortunate in their homelands, same with the guys that was in the news recently. Sits in a room at his aunts house evidently doing nothing per the ‘news’ about him.

    No this would end their dependency on the fed government for support, allow their 3d world SH countries to move forward and they would also potentially be the movers and shakers there. Like I said a win win, didn’t cost their home countries a cent to take care of or educate and now they can revolutionize for the betterment of the land from wherever. But this wont happen since the democraps want dependent voters and these folks are more than willing to be sheeple.

  3. McCain is both irrelevant and ineffective. He has no allies except the enemies of the country he once fought for.
    It is really sad.

    • Mc won’t be irrelevant till he becomes humus – he has a vote – he has traded parties for his own “R” party – not with the current administration – as such he has become the spoon in the soup for his own name sake a self proclaimed legend in his old worn out mind… at his constituents expense. Hate it when that happens.

  4. John McCain is surely senile. Has he forgotten his presidential campaign slogan, BUILD THE DANG WALL? Regardless of his service to our nation, it’s time for him to step down and get out of politics. He, like his butt-buddy Jeff Flake, is doing more to harm the Republican Party and wouldn’t be surprised if McCain was one of the people who leaked confidential information to some of his liberal friends in the MSM. IMHO: Mr. McCain, it’s always nice to go out on a ‘high-note’ but in your case, that time has long passed. You are now a disgrace to Arizona. At least Flake had the decency to step down. Please do the same.

    • standman, you are correct with one exception Sen Flaky DID NOT STEP DOWN he merely announced he was not going to run for reelection which he likely would LOSE.

      You are correct in that Senator McCain should step aside.

  5. Has anyone seen John McCain? It would appear that the Citizens of Arizona are short one Senator.

    • Arizona is down two senators. Remember Flakey was elected as a conservative who has flipped to a loser liberal.

  6. Johnnie McCain ratted on America when he was in Vietnam and now he’ll go to the grave as a rat against Americans.

    • I agree. The only reason he wasn’t court-martialed for that or for his plane crashes was because of who his grandfather and father were.

  7. Little Johnnie’s true strips are on display for all to see. Screw the will of the people, screw the taxpayer lets just give the ILLEGALS what they want and no wall to keep them from coming back. I would expect nothing else from this cancer ridden senile old fool. John, isn’t it time to go to hospice on your spread in Sedona and let the rest of the country alone? You and the country would be much better off.

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