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 DurbinAmnesty International calls to halt Kavanaugh nomination Fox's Chris Wallace: All 10 Democratic Senate Judiciary members again declined interview invitations Durbin: ‘No reason’ for people to remember Kavanaugh at party accuser describes 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 FlakeGOP opens door to holding Kavanaugh committee vote this week Police arrest 128 protesting Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill GOP launches counteroffensive on Kavanaugh 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) MenendezDems urge tech companies to remove 3D-gun blueprints Dem senators introduce resolution calling on Trump to stop attacking the press Booming economy has Trump taking a well-deserved victory lap MORE (D-N.J.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP opens door to holding Kavanaugh committee vote this week Press: Judge Kavanaugh must withdraw Kavanaugh: 'I will not be intimidated into withdrawing' MORE (R-S.C.), and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetOvernight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens Bipartisan senators unveil proposal to crack down on surprise medical bills Multiple NFL players continue on-field protests during national anthem 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 TrumpHouse Republican threatens to push for Rosenstein impeachment unless he testifies Judge suggests Trump’s tweet about Stormy Daniels was ‘hyperbole’ not defamation Rosenstein faces Trump showdown 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 McConnellFord's lawyer: Hearing doesn't appear to be designed for 'fair', 'respectful' treatment GOP opens door to holding Kavanaugh committee vote this week Press: Judge Kavanaugh must withdraw 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 CornynFord's lawyer: Hearing doesn't appear to be designed for 'fair', 'respectful' treatment GOP opens door to holding Kavanaugh committee vote this week GOP senator accuses Dems of ‘character assassination’ on Kavanaugh MORE (R-Texas) and Reps. Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthy13 states accepted Sessions invitation to meeting on social media bias: report This week: Kavanaugh nomination thrown into further chaos How the Trump tax law passed: Breaking the gridlock  MORE (R-Calif.) and Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerDemocrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her Dems' confidence swells with midterms fast approaching Trump's Puerto Rico tweets spark backlash 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.