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Senators, congressmen and women split on Trump's DACA proposal

Posted at 4:53 PM, Jan 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-26 18:57:41-05

For the first time, President Trump has offered a plan that would allow 'dreamers', young people brought to this country illegally by their parents, a path to citizenship. But, it comes with a price.

"It would be absolutely cruel and inhumane to force them to go back to their country of origin," said U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel. 

"It [a southern border wall] does its job 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, regardless of who is president," said U.S. Rep. Brian Mast. 

There are dreamers in the middle. 

"Being able to live in this country means everything to me because I came at a young age so this is the only country that I know," said Danyel Daniele, who was brought to the U.S. illegally from Venezuela when he was 3. 

The controversy over DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was the reason for a government shutdown last week. Now President Trump is proposing a path to citizenship for 1.8 million, but there's fine print. 

"I feel like a lot students, a lot of dreamers feel like their lives are being played with," said Daniele. 

The president wants an immigration bill to include $25 billion for a border wall. 

"In effect, he's holding ransom these dreamers for racist, bigoted proposals that are contrary to the values of American and what built this country," said Congresswoman Frankel. 

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast is in favor of the wall.

"Really the truly disappointing thing about southern border security is about how much we spend on it each and every year about $11 to $14 billion, something that by the federal government’s own estimate, it’s only about 30 percent effective," said Congressman Mast. "When you talk about making a robust southern security program between a wall, between technology, between the existing infrastructure that is already there, hopefully bringing it up to something that's closer to 70, 80. 90 percent effective at doing its job." 

On top of the wall, the proposal changes the legal immigration system to place priority on allowing citizenship for spouses and minor children only and eliminates the visa lottery system. 

"Well, the argument that some have is they don't believe that the parents who brought them here illegally should be rewarded with a path to citizenship. I do not believe that you can create a category of citizens who are the only ones in the country that can't use that to bring their parents or bring family members, so you have to deal with chain migration as a whole," said U.S. Senator Marco Rubio. 

Congressman Alcee Hastings said he would vote no on this deal. 

"When I see people saying that they should not have chain migration, I call that family reunification.  I don’t know what chain migration is; they make it sound like people are going to bring their cousins but since the 20s we’ve had family reunification for people that come here," said Hastings. 

Daniele believes there has to be some kind of reform.

"Right now Venezuela is going through turmoil and going back wouldn't be an option," said Daniele. 

Either way, he and hundreds of thousands of other dreamers are at risk of losing the foundation, the only home they've known in nearly two decades; where they've lived, been educated, made friends, and in many cases given back to their communities. 

"If the American people has invested in us all this way, why would they throw us away?" added Daniele.

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson's office said he is working with a bi-partisan group of senators trying to reach a compromise to protect the dreamers before the February 8 deadline.