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Thursday October 17th, 2019 1:53PM

The Latest: Collins, Graham appeal to Trump on immigration

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

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1:24 p.m.

A bipartisan group of senators pitching an immigration bill is pushing back against criticism from the Trump administration.

The senators are backing the spending of $25 billion on border security improvements and a pathway to citizenship for about 1.8 million immigrants brought into the country as children. The senators say their proposal is focused on a narrow set of problems and is not designed to serve as comprehensive immigration reform.

But Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine says the amendment is the only legislation in the Senate with broad, bipartisan support.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is pleading with the president to shut out some of the critics on both sides of the issue. He says, "this is the best shot you'll ever get."

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12:30 p.m.

The White House is threatening to veto a bipartisan Senate immigration proposal and says the emerging deal would "produce a flood of new illegal immigration in the coming months."

The Senate's debate on immigration is aimed at finding a way to help young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children who risk deportation because they lack permanent authorization to stay in the country.

The White House says the proposal would "would undermine the safety and security of American families and impede economic growth for American workers."

Republicans are backing a plan that offers a chance for citizenship for up to 1.8 million young "Dreamer" immigrants, as well as providing $25 billion for the president's proposed wall with Mexico and restricting legal immigration.

Democrats prefer a bipartisan plan that helps the Dreamers but doles out the wall money slowly and has far milder curbs on legal immigration.

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11:45 a.m.

The Senate's party leaders are pointing fingers of blame amid growing doubts that any immigration proposals will get enough votes to survive.

Showdown votes may come Thursday.

Republicans are backing a plan by President Donald Trump that offers a chance for citizenship for up to 1.8 million young "Dreamer" immigrants, as well as providing $25 billion for his proposed wall with Mexico and restricting legal immigration.

Democrats prefer a bipartisan plan that helps the Dreamers but doles out the wall money slowly and has far milder curbs on legal immigration.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Democrats aren't backing any measures that have a chance of becoming law.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer says Trump is the problem. Schumer says the American people will blame him if the immigration effort fails.

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10:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump says Congress should be — in his words — "strongly considering a system of Merit Based Immigration" as the Senate works on an immigration plan to protect young "Dreamers."

The president says on Twitter that a merit-based system would allow the United States to "have the people ready, willing and able to help all of those companies moving into the USA!"

His comment comes as a group of senators pushes a bipartisan plan that aims to offer citizenship to certain young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children — and provides billions to build a border wall with Mexico.

The Trump administration has denounced the proposal, saying it will create "mass amnesty for over 10 million illegal aliens, including criminals."

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8:25 a.m.

The Trump administration is denouncing a bipartisan immigration deal in the Senate, saying it will "create a mass amnesty for over 10 million illegal aliens, including criminals."

At issue is a compromise announced Wednesday by 16 senators with centrist views. It seeks to balance Democrats' fight to offer citizenship to young "Dreamer" immigrants with President Donald Trump's demands for billions to build a border wall with Mexico.

The Department of Homeland Security sent out a statement on the measure just before 1 a.m. Thursday, saying the compromise would "be the end of immigration enforcement in America and only serve to draw millions more illegal aliens with no way to remove them."

The department says the proposal does not address the administration's border security and immigration concerns.

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12:49 a.m.

A group of senators reached a bipartisan agreement aimed at balancing Democrats' fight to offer citizenship to young "Dreamer" immigrants with President Donald Trump's demands for billions to build his coveted border wall with Mexico.

Though the compromise was announced Wednesday by 16 senators with centrist views on the issue and was winning support from many Democrats, it faced an uncertain fate. Leaders were trying to schedule votes on that plan and three other immigration proposals for Thursday, which they hoped would bring the chamber's showdown over the hot-button issue to a close.

While not specifically mentioning the bipartisan pact, Trump urged lawmakers to oppose any plan that doesn't meet his more stringent demands, which include curbs on legal immigration and the abolition of a visa lottery.

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