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Saturday February 24th, 2018 1:07PM

The Latest: Senate votes to begin immigration debate

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on immigration legislation in Congress (all times local):

6:08 p.m.

The Senate has voted to start debating immigration, including whether to protect hundreds of thousands of young immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

Monday's vote was 97-1. The overwhelming margin belies how hard it will be for any measure to actually pass.

Many Republicans back President Donald Trump's plan offering possible citizenship to up to 1.8 million young "Dreamers." He's also seeking $25 billion for security, including his proposed border wall, and would limit the relatives legal immigrants can bring to the U.S.

Democrats want citizenship for Dreamers but are unwilling to clamp down on legal immigration.

Any measure will need 60 votes — meaning significant bipartisan support.

Senators are working on amendments behind the scenes. It is unclear which will be voted on and what can pass.

__

12:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump says it's up to Democrats to decide whether to extend protections for young immigrants living in the country illegally.

Trump is ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which lets young immigrants known as "Dreamers" temporarily live and work in the U.S.

On Monday, Trump said he never wanted to tie budget talks to the Dreamers debate and now that the budget has been proposed, "we start very serious DACA talks today."

Trump says he thinks "there's a good chance of getting DACA done," but only if Democrats "are serious and they actually want to do it." He adds that it's "really up to them."

Trump has proposed providing a pathway to citizenship for up to 1.8 million people in exchange for billions for his border wall, and major changes to the legal immigration system.

Democrats say his plan is a non-starter. Trump wants a deal by early next month.

__

1:11 a.m.

The Senate will open up a rare, open-ended debate on immigration and the fate of the "Dreamer" immigrants on Monday. But the most influential voice in the conversation may be on the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue.

If the aim is to pass a legislative solution soon, President Donald Trump is a crucial and, at times, complicating player. His day-to-day turnabouts on the issues have confounded Democrats and Republicans and led some to urge the White House to minimize his role in the debate for fear he'll say something that undermines the effort.

Yet his ultimate support will be vital if Congress is to overcome election-year pressures against compromise.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News
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