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Arizona Senators McCain And Flake Revisit Immigration Reform Proposals
With the six month repeal of DACA protection for an estimated 800,000 young immigrants in the U.S., Congress is now tasked with passing immigration reform.
When then President Barack Obama signed an executive order for the Deferred Action for Children Act in 2012, Congress was at an impasse trying to agree on a complete immigration reform package, including several ideas co-sponsored by Arizona's U.S. Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake.
In 2010, Flake voted against one of several drafts for the DREAM Act. He had sponsored an earlier version of the measure while serving as a House Representative.
Looking back at why he nixed the 2010 version, Flake said, "We wanted to do a comprehensive bill in the House rather than do one shot. And, we thought if we do the DREAM Act it would take away the incentive to do everything else."
While agreeing with GOP members that the method President Obama used to institute DACA is legally challengeable, they both see the program as necessary.
"We should not punish kids for actions taken by their parents. It is a bedrock principle in our judicial system," Flake told reporters on Tuesday, explaining his criticism of the Trump Administration's decision to repeal the protection.
"These kids were brought across the border, in many or most cases, they don't know any other home than the U.S. So, it's the right thing to do," Flake said.
In a statement, Sen. McCain called the decision to repeal, "the wrong approach to immigration reform," and wrote that, "The federal government has a responsibility to defend and secure our borders, but we must do so in a way that upholds all that is decent and exceptional about our nation."
Both men have pledged to revisit their proposals and others to find a solution to immigration reform.
"I will be working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to devise and pass comprehensive immigration reform, which will include the DREAM Act," McCain said.
With thousands of innocent lives in the balance, Flake said he is not worried right now about passing the whole package under the six month deadline.
"If we could do comprehensive immigration legislation, that would be great," he said.
But, at this point, Flake said "I'll take it comprehensive, I'll take it piece meal. In this case, I think it's easier to move this just as a stand alone piece because of the kids."
On Tuesday, President Trump sent out a message on Twitter stating "Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA... If they can't, I will revisit this issue!" He retracted his message the next day saying he had, "no second thoughts" regarding ending the program.