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Bipartisan Senate group 'close' on DACA deal

Bipartisan Senate group 'close' on DACA deal
© Greg Nash

Senators working on a bipartisan immigration plan indicated Wednesday that they are closing in on an agreement, with a deal possible this week. 

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDems confront Kelly after he calls some immigrants 'lazy' McConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Hoyer: DACA deal a long ways off MORE (D-Ill.) told reporters that he hopes the group can reach an agreement before this weekend that would pair a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program with parameters agreed to after a White House meeting. 

"We're close. The president made it clear what's important to him and we're trying to figure out how to do it in a thoughtful way and not just include fences and things of that nature, barriers, but to go beyond into technology, which the agency, people working there, over and over again said that's where we should start," he said. 

They are still trying to iron out the details of what border security package would be included, but Durbin said the agreement would include a pathway to citizenship for immigrants brought into the country illegally as children who meet certain requirements. 

In addition to border security and DACA, the bipartisan Senate group, which has been negotiating for months, has also discussed changes to the diversity lottery program — potentially shifting those visas toward Temporary Protected Status recipients — and changes to family-based immigration. 

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Huckabee Sanders: Dems need to decide if they 'hate' Trump 'more than they love this country' Trump spokeswoman fires back at Flake: 'His numbers are in the tank' MORE (R-Ariz.), who is also part of the negotiations, echoed Durbin, separately on Wednesday telling NBC News that senators are "very close," with a deal potentially being announced this week. 
 
Spokespeople for Flake didn't respond to a request for comment about the status of the negotiations. 
 
Even if the bipartisan group — which also includes Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezJustice Dept intends to re-try Menendez in corruption case DACA is neither bipartisan nor in America's interest Senate DACA deal picks up GOP supporters MORE (D-N.J.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Overnight Tech: Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up hack | Apple considers battery rebates | Regulators talk bitcoin | SpaceX launches world's most powerful rocket Overnight Cybersecurity: Tillerson proposes new cyber bureau at State | Senate bill would clarify cross-border data rules | Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up breach MORE (R-S.C.), and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetGOP Senate candidate fundraising lags behind Dems in key races Dem shutdown strategy: Force McConnell to deal DACA is neither bipartisan nor in America's interest MORE (D-Colo.)— is able to get an agreement amongst themselves they would still need to win over 60 senators, not to mention the more conservative House and President TrumpDonald John TrumpTillerson: Russia already looking to interfere in 2018 midterms Dems pick up deep-red legislative seat in Missouri Speier on Trump's desire for military parade: 'We have a Napoleon in the making' MORE
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House conservatives outlined their own bill on Wednesday, which includes more aggressive enforcement measures. 
 
GOP Sens. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonThis week: Trump delivers State of the Union amid immigration fight Ingraham: White House yanked immigration plan defense from show After shutdown surrender, why should progressives ever trust Chuck Schumer again? MORE (Ark.), Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Cybersecurity: Tillerson proposes new cyber bureau at State | Senate bill would clarify cross-border data rules | Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up breach Overnight Finance: Senators near two-year budget deal | Trump would 'love to see a shutdown' over immigration | Dow closes nearly 600 points higher after volatile day | Trade deficit at highest level since 2008 | Pawlenty leaving Wall Street group Grassley to Sessions: Policy for employees does not comply with the law MORE (Iowa) and David Perdue (Ga.) noted that they also think a deal needs to include more enforcement "so that federal law officers can protect law-abiding American citizens and immigrants."
 
Durbin acknowledged that Cotton, who introduced a bill with Perdue earlier this year that would overhaul the legal immigration system, would be unlikely to support any deal his group comes up with. 
 
"We're not going to win Tom Cotton, okay? ... And we're not going to get every Democrat either. Some of them, if we get to an agreement, are going to say it's not good enough," he said. 
 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDems confront Kelly after he calls some immigrants 'lazy' McConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Overnight Defense: Latest on spending fight - House passes stopgap with defense money while Senate nears two-year budget deal | Pentagon planning military parade for Trump | Afghan war will cost B in 2018 MORE (R-Ky.) has committed to giving a DACA bill a vote if Trump indicates he would be willing to sign the legislation. Trump reiterated his call for a "wall" on Wednesday, saying it "must be part of any DACA approval." 
 
Lawmakers, following Tuesday's White House meeting, have suggested the U.S.-Mexico border wall could be a fence and wouldn't need to cover the entire border. 
 
 
But both parties appear to be operating under different deadlines, with Republicans pointing to March as their cutoff date, but Democrats adamant they want a deal by next week's government funding deadline. 
 
Durbin noted that the four lawmakers agreed to have a staff meeting on Thursday "to discuss an agenda" but appeared skeptical that they would be able to come up with a deal by Jan. 19, the deadline to fund the government.
 
The Trump administration announced last year that it is ending the DACA program, which allows certain immigrants brought into the country as children to work and go to school. 
 
That decision gave Congress until March to codify the program, though a court threw a curveball into that timeline on Tuesday by ruling that the Trump administration has to keep DACA in place while litigation plays out.