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 DurbinHugh Hewitt to Trump: 'It is 100 percent wrong to separate border-crossing families' Opioid treatment plans must include a trauma-informed approach Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Dems want answers on DOJ ObamaCare decision 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 FlakeDHS secretary defends Trump administration's migrant policies White House faces growing outcry over migrant family policies GOP senators push for clarification on migrant family separations 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) MenendezSchumer: Obama 'very amenable' to helping Senate Dems in midterms The Hill's Morning Report: Can Trump close the deal with North Korea? Senate must save itself by confirming Mike Pompeo MORE (D-N.J.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP senator: Family separation policy 'inconsistent' with American values Trump’s trusted diplomat faces daunting task with North Korea Trump’s danger on North Korea? Raised expectations MORE (R-S.C.), and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetOvernight Finance: Trump wants Russia back in G-7 | Senators, allies push back | House approves first fiscal 2019 spending bills | Dems want insider trading probe over job tweet Dems want insider trading probe after Trump jobs report tweet Clinton on his reading habits: 'I like a fast ride' 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 TrumpEx-ethics chief calls on Trump to end 'monstrous' migrant policies Laura Bush blasts Trump migrant policy as 'cruel' and 'immoral' US denies report of coalition airstrike on Syria MORE
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House conservatives outlined their own bill on Wednesday, which includes more aggressive enforcement measures. 
 
 
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 McConnellCongress had a good couple of weeks — now let's keep it going McCarthy: 'The Mueller investigation has got to stop' McConnell: Mueller 'ought to wrap it up' 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. 
 
Meanwhile, Durbin, Sen. John CornynJohn CornynMcConnell: Mueller 'ought to wrap it up' Senate rejects effort to boost Congress's national security oversight Graham jokes about Corker: GOP would have to be organized to be a cult MORE (R-Texas) and Reps. Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyHillicon Valley: Trump hits China with massive tech tariffs | Facebook meets with GOP leaders over bias allegations | Judge sends Manafort to jail ahead of trial | AT&T completes Time Warner purchase McCarthy: 'The Mueller investigation has got to stop' McConnell: Mueller 'ought to wrap it up' MORE (R-Calif.) and Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerPelosi, Dems hammer GOP for ‘derailing’ DACA debate Hoyer warns GOP: Don’t dabble with DACA compromise bill Dem House candidate gets pepper sprayed in the face in campaign ad MORE (D-Md.) met on Wednesday to begin negotiating a timeline for DACA legislation. 
 
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.