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 DurbinSenate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk Threat of impeachment takes oxygen out of 2019 agenda Senate Democrats request watchdog, Red Cross probe DHS detention facilities 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 FlakeSen. Coons examines Amazon's privacy and data security practices for Alexa devices Oil companies join blitz for carbon tax The Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget 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) MenendezEnding the Cyprus arms embargo will increase tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean We can accelerate a cure for Alzheimer's The Hill's 12:30 Report: Manafort sentenced to total of 7.5 years in prison MORE (D-N.J.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump declassification move unnerves Democrats Climate change is a GOP issue, too New Yorker cover titled 'The Shining' shows Graham, McConnell, Barr polishing Trump's shoes MORE (R-S.C.), and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetDNC boss says candidates to be involved in debate lottery Overnight Energy: Democrats ask if EPA chief misled on vehicle emissions | Dem senators want NBC debate focused on climate change | 2020 hopeful John Delaney unveils T climate plan 2020 hopeful John Delaney unveils T climate plan 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 TrumpA better VA, with mental health services, is essential for America's veterans Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Trump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit 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 McConnellThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions What if 2020 election is disputed? Immigration bills move forward amid political upheaval 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 CornynThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Bipartisan House bill calls for strategy to protect 5G networks from foreign threats Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' MORE (R-Texas) and Reps. Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyRepublicans spend more than million at Trump properties The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi fires back in feud with Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes MORE (R-Calif.) and Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerPelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote House Democrats seek bipartisan working group on net neutrality Steyer plans impeachment push targeting Democrats over recess 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.