Oct. 3 (UPI) -- The Senate Judiciary Committee's chairman said Tuesday that legislation allowing young immigrants known as "Dreamers" to stay in the United States doesn't need to be linked to funding for President Donald Trump's proposed border wall with Mexico.
"Any potential deal on DACA has to include robust border security, and by that I don't mean a wall," Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in an opening statement, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The panel head said increased border security could instead include "tactical infrastructure."
"It would be a dereliction of our duty if we fail to take steps to end at least some of the illegal immigration as we know it, and kick the can down the road so that a future Congress has to address this very same problem again in another 15 years," Grassley said. "I'm confident that if everyone is reasonable, we can find a solution."
That also would include making the e-verify program -- a check if an individual is able to work legally in the United States -- "mandatory for all employers."
Tuesday's hearing was the first time Trump administration officials testified before Congress since Trump made the decision to end the DACA program.
More than 700,000 are currently enrolled in the DACA program.
On Sept. 6, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Trump's decision to end the DACA program -- which was created by President Barack Obama in 2012. There is a six-month wind-down of the program for Congress to come up with a fix, and DACA recipients have until Thursday to renew their status.
"We all have empathy for these young people, who came to this country through no fault of their own. And, for many of them, it is the only country they know," Grassley said. "And, the administration isn't without empathy. In recognition of the fact that almost 700,000 young people relied on President Obama's false promise, the Trump Administration didn't immediately terminate the program."
The Republicans need some Democratic support to reach the necessary 60 votes. Democrats have been against funding for a wall.
On Thursday, the House Homeland Security Committee plans to take up legislation to provide $10 billion aimed at securing the U.S.-Mexico border.