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NEWSDAY - Bipartisan plan for immigrants' legal status, border security

March 25, 2019
In The News

Two Long Island congressmen are crafting a $10 billion bipartisan proposal that would provide a path to legal status for immigrants who otherwise would lose protection from deportation, as well as bolster border security and supply funding for the physical barrier desired by President Donald Trump.

Reps. Peter King (R-Seaford) and Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) are laying out key principles on a deal that would include provisions for legalization for immigrants from countries facing the expiration of temporary protected status, or TPS, as well as young immigrants known as Dreamers, brought illegally to the United States as minors.

The joint legislative proposal seeks a middle path between Democrats who don’t want to fund Trump’s border wall and Republicans who have opposed compromises over the last decade that offered those immigrants legal residency.

The bill would authorize $4.3 billion for about 700 miles of “physical structures” at the border and an additional $4.3 billion for border technology improvements, personnel costs and other programs focused on preventing migration from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Another $1.4 billion would be for administrative costs.

Trump campaigned for a wall along the southern border that he said Mexico would pay for, but earlier this year said it could be “a physical barrier” made of steel, rather than concrete, and costing $5.7 billion.

The congressmen's measure, to be introduced within weeks, is a bipartisan alternative to another House bill that Democrats, including Suozzi and Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City), have signed on to this month. That legislation does not fund border security.

Suozzi said many affected immigrants “are trying their best, and on top of the normal anxiety of life — the school and jobs and family and health — they have to worry about being kicked out of the country” while no workable compromise is offered. “It drives me crazy when even people on my side propose some idealistic solution that is never going to get done.”