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Sen. Jeff Flake hopes to work with Trump on DREAMer protections

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

PHOENIX — U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake has been one of President Donald Trump’s fiercest critics, but there is one issue the senator said they both agree on: Enacting legislation to protect so-called DREAMers.

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Flake said both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence want to work with him on brainstorming a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

Those immigrants, also known as DREAMers, have been in limbo since Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era program that granted temporary work permits to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, in September.

Trump granted a six-month delay to the end of the program in an effort to push Congress to decide whether it wants to write legislation to protect the immigrants, a timeline that Flake emphasized is coming to a close soon.

Related: Protesters sit in at McCain’s office to push for DREAMer protections

“The problem is what we’ve seen so far for Congress, it seems, is not in the attempt to reach a deal [but] to make a statement rather than make a law,” Flake said. “And these kids are going to be timed out here soon. And so we’ve got to actually get serious with it.”

The issue of securing protections for DREAMers has been one that Flake has set his sights on for some time.

The Arizona senator has sponsored a bipartisan DREAM Act that was introduced by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) in July.

Flake himself also introduced a compromise bill in October that would provide $1.6 billion in funding for border protection and would give conditional resident status to DACA recipients and other children.

And most recently, Flake committed to voting for the Senate’s tax reform bill last week after the White House assured him that he would be part of the conversation for DREAMer protections.

“Both the vice president and the president have said they want to work with me on it,” Flake said. “That wasn’t my condition to vote for the bill. It wasn’t. It was a secondary thing. But I’m glad I got it.”

“I think this is one area the president has said some good things about wanting to do it,” he said. “I think his instincts on DACA, at least, are probably better than some of the advice that he’s gotten on this.”

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