US Republican lawmakers unveil immigration package

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Republicans' package links Trump's border wall to Dreamers' stay

WASHINGTON: Republicans on Wednesday unveiled an immigration package to tighten border security, end chain migration and fund US President Donald Trump's border wall, while shielding nearly a million "Dreamers" from deportation.

It was introduced just minutes after Mr Trump said that any legislation that protects undocumented immigrants would need to fund a wall along the US-Mexico border - one of the primary pledges of his 2016 presidential campaign.

"Any solution has to include the wall because without the wall, it all doesn't work," Mr Trump told reporters.

Congress is grappling with how to break an impasse over the "Dreamers" - immigrants who were brought to the US illegally as children, but were permitted to stay under previous US president Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) programme.

Mr Trump scrapped Daca in September, but left Congress to find a solution by March, when thousands of immigrants would face deportation.

He met two dozen Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday at the White House, urging them to craft a compromise that would accommodate the Dreamers but also achieve immigration reforms.

"The president indicated that our bill, the Securing America's Future Act, is the starting point to correct the flaws in our immigration system," House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte told reporters.

"This bill funds the border wall and secures ports of entry along the southern border. It also limits immigrants from bringing family members into the country, and ends the green card lottery system, he added.

But it also includes conservative priorities like cracking down on sanctuary cities, and provides no special pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.

On Tuesday, a US judge blocked Mr Trump from scrapping Daca and ordered it maintained "on a nationwide basis," as legal challenges against it proceed.

But the White House and Democrats agreed that the ruling does not diminish the urgent need to resolve the issue.

The Republican legislation is certain to antagonize Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who wants a narrowly crafted Daca bill that includes border security enhancements but no wall funding. - AFP