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Durbin: Divide on border security, path to citizenship blocking immigration deal

A key Democrat is “positive” about the possibility of reaching a deal on immigration reform, but cautioned that a bipartisan Senate group has many “tough” issues to resolve.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on “Fox News Sunday” that he feels “good” a deal coming together with Republicans on the thorny issue of immigration reform, but said questions over border security issues and a pathway to citizenship were holding up the final agreement. 

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“We’re dealing with border enforcement, which is very important on the Republicans’ side of the table. We're dealing with the question of the 11 million people paying their taxes having a path to legalization, then ultimately to citizenship - tough issues, but we're coming together and I think we can do it, I have a positive feeling,” Durbin said.

Durbin, one of eight bipartisan Senators hashing out possible solutions to the difficult matter, says that he’s been working “literally hours every week … and we’re making progress.”

“But I feel good about it, there's a feeling in that room that we have a responsibility to this nation after 25 years to write an immigration law that we can live with for generations to come,” Durbin told Fox host Chris Wallace.

The “Gang of Eight” senators have unveiled a blueprint for immigration reform that would allow those who are here illegally to gradually apply for legal status, if they don’t have a criminal record and pay fines and back taxes. Their proposal would also strengthen border security requirements and create programs for high-skilled immigration and a guest worker visa program.

But since announcing their framework in January, the senators are still negotiating the details.

The final plan, though, will likely face questions from both Republicans and Democrats. Many House GOP lawmakers are opposed to measures to create a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, which they see as “amnesty.” Democrats are concerned any penalties will be too severe and will discourage undocumented immigrants from coming forward.

Many of the Senate group’s proposals though mirror a draft of an Obama administration plan leaked last month.

The president has made immigration reform a second-term priority and said that he expects a plan to be signed into law by year’s end, and hopefully by as soon as June.