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 Dems ask Trump to disclose financial ties to Saudi Arabia Trump officials ratchet up drug pricing fight GOP senators: Mnuchin should not go to Saudi Arabia 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 CornynFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke debate showdown Live coverage: Cruz faces O'Rourke in Texas debate showdown Trump, Feinstein feud intensifies over appeals court nominees 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 FlakeMnuchin pulls out of Saudi conference The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns On The Money: Treasury official charged with leaking info on ex-Trump advisers | Trump to seek 5 percent budget cut from Cabinet members | Mnuchin to decide by Thursday on attending Saudi conference 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 TrumpThe Guardian slams Trump over comments about assault on reporter Five takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Watchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US 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 McConnellOvernight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma — Trump says GOP will support pre-existing condition protections | McConnell defends ObamaCare lawsuit | Dems raise new questions for HHS on child separations Poll finds Dems prioritize health care, GOP picks lower taxes when it's time to vote The Hill's 12:30 Report — Mnuchin won't attend Saudi conference | Pompeo advises giving Saudis 'few more days' to investigate | Trump threatens military action over caravan 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 SchumerThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns McConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' Medicare for All is disastrous for American seniors and taxpayers MORE (D-N.Y.), House Minority Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiPelosi meets with Parkland students and parents, says gun control would be atop Dems’ agenda The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns Election Countdown: O'Rourke goes on the attack | Takeaways from fiery second Texas Senate debate | Heitkamp apologizes for ad misidentifying abuse victims | Trump Jr. to rally for Manchin challenger | Rick Scott leaves trail to deal with hurricane damage MORE (D-Calif.) and House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanThe Memo: Saudi storm darkens for Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report — Mnuchin won't attend Saudi conference | Pompeo advises giving Saudis 'few more days' to investigate | Trump threatens military action over caravan The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns MORE (R-Wis.) met with Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOn The Money: Mnuchin pulls out of Saudi summit | Consumer bureau to probe controversial blog posts on race | Harris proposes new middle-class tax credit Consumer bureau to probe top Trump official's past racial comments On The Money: Deficit hits six-year high of 9 billion | Yellen says Trump attacks threaten Fed | Affordable housing set for spotlight in 2020 race 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.