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White House threatens veto of bipartisan immigration plan

The White House said Thursday it would advise President Donald Trump to veto a bipartisan immigration plan, heaping pressure on the US Senate as it seeks a deal that protects young immigrants from deportation.<br />/ AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN

The White House said Thursday it would advise President Donald Trump to veto a bipartisan immigration plan, heaping pressure on the US Senate as it seeks a deal that protects young immigrants from deportation.

The compromise proposal, which puts 1.8 million “Dreamer” immigrants on a path to citizenship and boosts border security, appeared to be gaining traction in the Senate, although Trump has forcefully advocated for his own plan that takes those steps while also restricting legal immigration.

The bipartisan plan unveiled by eight Republicans and eight Democrats “would drastically change our national immigration policy for the worse by weakening border security and undercutting existing immigration law,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

“If the president were presented with an enrolled bill that includes the amendment, his advisors would recommend that he veto it.”

The veto threat pours cold water an what some Republicans were describing as the Senate’s most viable immigration proposal, as the chamber struggles to meet a self-imposed end-of-the-week deadline for approving a plan.

The key will be which bill can receive 60 votes, the threshold for advancing legislation in the closely divided 100-member Senate.

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"This is the one and only bill that deals with immigration issues with broad bipartisan support," Senator Susan Collins, a founder of the "Common Sense Coalition" that crafted the bipartisan measure, told reporters.

The White House warned that Collins's bill prevents the enforcement of legal action against people who enter the country before June 2018, which "would produce a flood of new illegal immigration in the coming months."

"The administration is committed to finding a permanent, fair, and legal solution for DACA," Sanders added. "But this amendment would only compound the problem."

The fate of some 1.8 million immigrants brought to the country illegally as children has been uncertain since Trump scrapped the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program last September and gave Congress six months to legislate a solution.

Some 690,000 Dreamers who registered under DACA -- plus 1.1 million others who were eligible but did not sign up -- could face deportation beginning March 5 if no deal is reached.

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