The Problem Solvers Caucus (Wait, Who?) Have a Proposal for DACA and Border Security

Something called the Problem Solvers Caucus in the House of Representatives, a bipartisan group of 48 legislators split evenly between GOP and Dem members, has apparently been hard at work since the Fall on the DACA issue and they say they’ve drafted a proposal that should be included in any upcoming budget deal.

The group’s immigration framework looks, according to CNN, a great deal like the framework developed by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill) and that was just dismissed as dead in the water by GOP leaders in the Senate.

It’s unclear why the Problem Solvers Caucus proposal would have more success than the Durbin-Graham proposal, but the bipartisan group has been negotiating for months in the hope that if enough rank-and-file members can show consensus across the aisle, it could pick up steam with leadership as an option as funding talks continue without success, and provide a counterpoint to hardline bills pushed by more conservative House Republicans.
Last week, the White House released a general outline of what they desired from an immigration reform package, which would ultimately provide a 10-12 year time frame for a pathway to citizenship to as many as 1.8 million immigrants in exchange for $25 billion for a border wall and other security measures. There are four pillars to the White House plan:
  • BORDER SECURITY: Securing the Southern and Northern border of the United States takes a combination of physical infrastructure, technology, personnel, resources, authorities, and the ability to close legal loopholes that are exploited by smugglers, traffickers, cartels, criminals and terrorists.
  • DACA LEGALIZATION: Provide legal status for DACA recipients and other DACA-eligible illegal immigrants, adjusting the time-frame to encompass a total population of approximately 1.8 million individuals.
  • PROTECT THE NUCLEAR FAMILY: Protect the nuclear family by emphasizing close familial relationships.
  • ELIMINATE LOTTERY AND RE-PURPOSE VISAS: The Visa Lottery selects individuals at random to come to the United States without consideration of skills, merit or public safety. 

The Problem Solvers’ deal takes up the 10-12 year pathway to citizenship for those immigrants who are taxpayers with clean criminal  records. It also incorporates Trump’s budget request for border security — “$1.6 billion for physical barriers, such as wall and fencing, and $1.1 billion for technology and other measures” as well as other border-related security funding — into the proposal.

Their bill would also end the diversity lottery and replace it with merit-based visas “for underrepresented countries with education, work and language requirements.” Finally, it would disallow the sponsorship of parents who brought their children to the country illegally, but would provide them with a three-year visa to work.

The short-term government funding passed to avoid a shut down runs out February 8, a week from Thursday.