Reps. Hurd, Aguilar say "narrow focus" needed to pass immigration legislation

Hurd and Aguilar's bill

Reps. Will Hurd, R-Texas, and Pete Aguilar, D-California, say a "narrow focus" is essential to passing any immigration legislation in both the House and Senate as lawmakers continue to push ahead on negotiating a fix to protect "Dreamers."

"I still believe that a narrow bill is most important, the thing that we can get through our Congress, both houses, in the House and in the Senate. Because the more things you add, you start creating coalitions of opposition. And so let's keep this narrow. Let's get it done in the next couple of days and go on to the next issue," suggested Hurd on CBS News' "Face the Nation" on Sunday. 

The White House unveiled its own framework for immigration legislation last week that included four principles that critics say is too broad. Aguilar said "the most important thing we can do is to protect Dreamers."

"Some of the changes that they are proposing are devastating to our immigration system, and I feel are better left for comprehensive immigration reform. So let's keep it narrow, as Will mentioned. Let's focus on DACA fix and border security and move on and get those issues off to the next day," added Aguilar. 

Hurd and Aguilar introduced their own bipartisan bill two weeks ago to protect DACA recipients while boosting border security through "enhanced technology" and "physical barriers" wherever necessary. 

The legislation would allow Dreamers to apply for permanent residency and increase funding by border security, though at a lower level than the president's proposal. Hurd and Aguilar's bill would also not grant legal status to the parents of Dreamers. 

The "Uniting and Security America Act" was introduced earlier this month and has secured the support of 53 co-sponsors, evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. 

Hurd said he was confident that their bill would pass the House, saying it's the "type of bipartisan approach American public wants to see."

"This is the only bill that would have 218 votes on the House floor. We feel very confident about that. We've had numbers of discussions with our colleagues. But this is the type of bipartisan approach that the American public wants to see. And it's important that if we're going to fix this DACA issue and add border security, this is the type of narrow focus that can get 218 votes and can get to the president's desk," he added. 

Aguilar echoed Hurd, saying, "This is exactly what the president asked for. This is a DACA fix with sensible border security. These are common sense measures. This is the type of proposal that should garner a signature and that he should support. And we feel that we can make our case to our colleagues to get that done."

The congressmen said Congress must act before the March 5 deadline when Dreamers' permits begin expiring, putting their legal status in jeopardy.

"I don't think anybody in Congress wants to get there. That's why we need to buckle up, sort this out over the next few days, and I think we have a couple of weeks, and get this done before that March deadline," said Hurd.

"It's flat-out unacceptable. We can't have policies that deport Dreamers. We shouldn't stand for it," said Aguilar. "That's exactly why we're working so hard to get this done."

  • Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital