Senate Gang of Four to meet next week on immigration

Senate Gang of Four to meet next week on immigration
© Greg Nash

A new bipartisan Gang of Four plans to meet next week to begin in-depth negotiations on a bill to solve the problem of mass detentions and child separation at the U.S.-Mexico border.

GOP Sens. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisOvernight Defense: House approves 3 billion defense bill | Liberal sweeteners draw progressive votes | Bill includes measure blocking Trump from military action on Iran Senators urge Trump to sanction Turkey for accepting Russian missile shipment The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic infighting threatens 2020 unity MORE (N.C.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP senators ask for federal investigation into social media companies' decision-making The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke Ted Cruz blasts Tennessee GOP governor for declaration honoring early KKK leader MORE (Texas), the original co-sponsors of a Republican measure to keep detained families together at the border, are meeting with Democratic Sens. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinDem senators demand GOP judicial group discloses donors Senate Democrats skipping Pence's border trip Senate confirms Trump's 9th Circuit pick despite missing blue slips MORE (Calif.) and Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinProblem Solvers Caucus co-chair calls Trump comments about progressive congresswomen 'totally unacceptable' Trump's tweets unify a fractured Democratic Party Sunday shows - Immigration raids dominate MORE (Ill.) next week to lay the groundwork for a compromise.


“It’s really to bridge the gap,” Tillis said of the meeting’s purpose. “We need to go through what-if scenarios so that we can address the legitimate concerns of two- or three-year detentions if the courts get clogged up."

“Those are all solvable problems,” he said.

He emphasized that the legislation he introduced with GOP colleagues was kept simple in hopes of attracting bipartisan support.

The goal is to “solve a very clear crisis with a very clear fix,” Tillis said.

Feinstein, the senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, played an active role in helping to organize a meeting of senators Wednesday afternoon that was hosted by Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsRepublicans make U-turn on health care Children urge Congress to renew funds for diabetes research Justice Democrats issues 3 new endorsements for progressive candidates MORE (R-Maine) in hopes of finding a way forward on the thorny immigration issue.

Feinstein extended an offer Thursday to Tillis and Cruz to meet next week.

Durbin was a member of the Gang of Eight that drafted bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform in 2013, which the Senate passed but was later blocked by the House.

Durbin, the Senate Democratic whip, said he is open to backing compromise legislation as long as it’s reasonable — even though he would prefer that President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Camerota clashes with Trump's immigration head over president's tweet LA Times editorial board labels Trump 'Bigot-in-Chief' Trump complains of 'fake polls' after surveys show him trailing multiple Democratic candidates MORE act to reverse his “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which has resulted in an increase in incarcerations.

“I’m sure we’ll look for alternatives that are reasonable,” he said.

Cruz said he “hopes” Democrats are willing to negotiate, but he thinks some members of their caucus would prefer nothing to pass so they can have political ammunition for the fall's midterm elections.

“There are some Democrats who may be more interested in a political issue to campaign on in November than in passing legislation, but there have been a number of Democratic senators who have expressed earnest desires to work with me,” Cruz said.

He said he hoped to see “productive common ground” emerge from next week’s meeting with Feinstein and Durbin.

Feinstein has also called on the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on the border crisis.