Senators say they're waiting on White House immigration demands
© Greg Nash

Key senators involved in negotiations on an Obama-era immigration program said Wednesday they are still waiting for the White House's list of border security demands. 

“Well, we waited again with, sadly, no results for the administration to produce their border security plan. How long have we been waiting? They've promised it over and over and over again,” Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate approves resolution warning Trump not to hand over US officials Deal to fix family separations hits snag in the Senate Senate Democrats block resolution supporting ICE MORE (D-Ill.) told reporters, asked about progress made in the immigration negotiations during the holiday recess. 

A bipartisan group of senators and White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE met in mid-December to discuss the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, with lawmakers saying the administration would send over a list of demands within days. 

The administration announced last year that it would end DACA, which allows immigrants brought into the country illegally as children to work and go to school if they meet certain conditions. 

But multiple senators and Senate staffers said on Wednesday that the list hadn't materialized yet.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate GOP attempts to wave Trump off second Putin summit Senators push to clear backlog in testing rape kits Senate approves resolution warning Trump not to hand over US officials MORE (R-Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said that “I personally haven't seen it, but hopefully my staff has.”

“They said they would send it over, and I just don't know what happened over the holidays,” he added, when told that Durbin also hadn't seen the list. 

A spokeswoman for Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeSenate GOP attempts to wave Trump off second Putin summit Senate approves resolution warning Trump not to hand over US officials Flake: Trump's Russia summit ‘truly an Orwellian moment’ MORE (R-Ariz.), who organized the mid-December meeting, said they also hadn't received the White House's list.

A bipartisan group of senators have been negotiating behind closed doors to try to get a deal that ties a DACA fix to border security. But GOP senators say they wanted the White House to outline what it would require in any legislation for President TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL freezes policy barring players from protesting during anthem McConnell spokesman on Putin visit: 'There is no invitation from Congress' Petition urges University of Virginia not to hire Marc Short MORE to sign it. 

A spokesman for the White House, asked about a timeframe, said he was “pretty sure we sent them back on Oct 8th.”

The White House released a wide-ranging list of border security and immigration principles last year that were quickly panned by Democrats. That included cracking down on immigrant children being sent to the U.S. border from Central and South American countries and construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall

The White House aide didn't immediately respond to a question on Wednesday about if they were saying the White House wouldn’t send over a new list. 

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also noted on Wednesday that the administration had already laid out its priorities for a deal. 

“Our priorities on what we would hope to have in any immigration bill and in any DACA deal haven't changed. They would include securing the border with a wall, ensuring interior enforcement, eliminating the visa lottery program, and ending chain migration. All those things are still the same,” she said. 

The immigration fight has emerged as a key sticking point as Congress heads toward looming deadlines over funding the government and avoiding automatic across-the-board spending cuts. 

Durbin said on Wednesday that Democrats were open to including changes to “chain migration” — which allows citizens and permanent residents to sponsor family members.

“We're open to the conversation. ... There are ways to do this, sensible ways to do this,” he said.

He added that the sticking point for Democrats would be that once citizens, "Dreamers" must have all the rights of citizens. 

Asked if the legislation would include limits on who “Dreamers” who have received green cards could sponsor, Durbin demurred, saying he wouldn't “get into details.”

He added that there had been “some ideas [but] no agreement” to changes on the State Department’s diversity visa lottery system. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell spokesman on Putin visit: 'There is no invitation from Congress' Overnight Defense: Trump inviting Putin to DC | Senate to vote Monday on VA pick | Graham open to US-Russia military coordination in Syria Senate to vote Monday on Trump's VA nominee MORE has promised to give a DACA fix a vote on the Senate floor if negotiators can reach a deal this month. 

McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats slam Trump for considering Putin’s ’absurd’ request to question Americans Judge Kavanaugh confounds the left This week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation MORE (D-N.Y.), House Minority Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiDems unveil slate of measures to ratchet up pressure on Russia GOP looks to blunt Dems’ attacks on rising premiums Who will be the ‘bridge’ for the Democrats? MORE (D-Calif.) and House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDems unveil slate of measures to ratchet up pressure on Russia National Dems make play in Ohio special election Trump vows to hold second meeting with Putin MORE (R-Wis.) met with Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOn The Money: Trump rips Fed over rate hikes | Dems fume as consumer agency pick refuses to discuss border policy | Senate panel clears Trump IRS nominee Trump pick to head watchdog agency is who consumers need Dems fume as Trump's consumer bureau pick refuses to discuss role in border policy MORE, Trump's budget chief, and Marc Short on Wednesday to discuss the myriad of outstanding issues.

A spokesman for Schumer said after the meeting that they had not yet received the White House's border security list. 

McConnell, Ryan and the White House said in a joint statement after the meeting that it “remains important that members of Congress do not hold funding for our troops hostage for immigration policy.”

Democratic leadership is under pressure to get a DACA agreement included as part of any funding or spending deal after they kicked the issue into 2018.

Republicans will need to rely on Democratic votes if they want to avoid a government shutdown on Dec. 19.

Cornyn appeared open to linking an immigration deal to the omnibus, if senators are able to come up with a “consensus” agreement in time. 

“If we have a bill that basically represents a consensus position there's no reason to wait. On the other hand I don’t think we can hold up acting on that omnibus if we're not ready,” he said.