(CNSNews.com) - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he thinks the "Dreamers have a sympathetic case," but he said it's not enough to pass a bill addressing only their concerns.
McConnell sad a bill giving a pathway to citizenship to Dreamers, such as the one passed in the House this week, must be paired with other measures to fix the broken immigration system.
McConnell spoke to Fox News Radio host Guy Benson, who asked him if the Democrats' American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) will get a vote in the Senate.
"Probably not," McConnell said.
"Immigration is an area that there is bipartisan responsibility from failure to act. I think it's important to remember when the Democrats last controlled the entire government -- the White House, the House, the Senate in 2009, 2010 -- never brought the subject up.
"So it makes me wonder if they really want an outcome or they want an issue. I think the Dreamers have a sympathetic case. There are circumstances under which I and others would be happy to support that. But we need to do more than that. You know, there's some genuine fixes on the legal immigration side and on the illegal immigration side that need to be addressed."
H.R. 6 would provide green cards and work permits to immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as minors (“Dreamers”), if they meet certain criteria. It would also allow some immigrants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status to apply for permanent legal status. Some 2.5 million people could obtain permanent citizenship as a result.
McConnell said he'd want those provisions paired with additional legislative fixes that would stop the massive influx of illegal immigrants, many of them claiming amnesty.
"I think there's a perfectly legitimate case for the Dreamers...But I think we need to do more than just that, and that's the context in which I would deal with that issue in the Senate."
McConnell said the first thing Congress needs to do is "deal with the humanitarian crisis."
"That's the short-term problem that needs to be addressed through a supplemental appropriation," he said. But Democrats are balking even at the request for emergency money to deal with the humanitarian crisis.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said this past Sunday he plans to introduce his immigration fix, The Secure and Protect Act of 2019, in two weeks.
Graham's bill would require Central Americans seeking asylum to apply at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country or at refugee processing centers within Mexico. It would allow U.S. authorities to send unaccompanied minors from Central American back to their home country, the same way Mexicans are treated.
It extends the amount of time that illegal immigrant families with minor children are detained to 100 days. And it allows for the hiring of 500 new immigration judges to reduce the backlog of asylum cases.
"What Lindsey's trying to do is to get some legal changes that we absolutely need to make," McConnell said. "I hope he can get some Democratic support in -- in committee. And if he can put something together on a bipartisan basis that helps us solve the legal problems we're confronted with -- it's just how long can you detain people. That -- that'd be a good subject to bring up."
McConnell repeated what he said earlier this week at a news conference, that Republicans are generally not in favor of president's plan to place tariffs on Mexico as a way to force Mexico to stop the immigrant caravans from Central America.
"So I'm hoping this can be avoided," McConnell said. "There's a Mexican delegation in town as you and I are speaking trying to see if they can reach some agreement to do a better job of keeping folks -- mostly these people who are coming up from Central America, not from Mexico.
"And they're traversing the entire Mexico -- if the Mexicans could do a better job of preventing them from crossing the border in the southern part of Mexico and also try to enhance their effort on the border, maybe all of this can be averted."