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Senate Democrats' immigration plan, courtesy of a Texas Republican

Andrea Drusch, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Senate Democrats are rallying around an immigration plan crafted by one of the House's leading border experts, San Antonio Rep. Will Hurd -- who happens to be a Republican.

He's also one of the Texas Democrats' top targets in 2018.

The two-term congressman represents more than 800 miles of Texas' roughly 1,200-mile border with Mexico. He's made his ability to work with Democrats and his expertise on the border key elements of his re-election pitch in a congressional district that Democrat Hillary Clinton won in 2016.

Hurd's plan, pitched in the Senate by John McCain, R-Ariz., and Chris Coons, D-Del., offers a pathway to citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients in exchange for increased border security that uses barriers in some places and technology in others.

It also increases the number of immigration judges to solve backlogs in immigration courts and seeks to improve conditions in Central America to stop children from seeking refuge across the border.

Democratic Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday that he wants the Senate to vote on Hurd's plan. Schumer also said the Senate should vote on President Donald Trump's proposal, which calls for changes to the legal immigration system that Democrats oppose.

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"Let's start off with a vote on the president's proposal to address DACA, as well as the bipartisan Coons-McCain proposal," Schumer urged. "Our (legislation) is ready to go."

Trump plans to end the DACA program March 5, and asked Congress to come up with a solution for its roughly 700,000 recipients before then. The Senate has been scrambling to meet that deadline and plans to begin voting on proposals as soon as Wednesday.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.,who runs the Senate floor, said Tuesday that if the Senate doesn't reach an immigration deal this week it will move on to other priorities.

Hurd, familiar with competitive races, has worked tirelessly to show he can find solutions with Democrats, including his DACA plan.

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