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 DurbinDick DurbinBiden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report GOP, Democrats battle over masks in House, Senate Democrats ramp up pressure for infrastructure deal amid time crunch 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 FlakeBiden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Biden to nominate Jane Hartley as UK ambassador: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Voting rights will be on '22, '24 ballots 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) MenendezLobbying world This week: Congress starts summer sprint The Innovation and Competition Act is progressive policy MORE (D-N.J.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe 17 Republicans who voted to advance the Senate infrastructure bill Senate votes to take up infrastructure deal Senators say they have deal on 'major issues' in infrastructure talks MORE (R-S.C.), and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetLawmakers can't reconcile weakening the SALT cap with progressive goals How Sen. Graham can help fix the labor shortage with commonsense immigration reform For true American prosperity, make the child tax credit permanent 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 TrumpFormer New York state Senate candidate charged in riot Trump called acting attorney general almost daily to push election voter fraud claim: report GOP senator clashes with radio caller who wants identity of cop who shot Babbitt MORE
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 McConnellMcConnell: 'It never occurred to me' convincing Americans to get vaccinated would be difficult The 17 Republicans who voted to advance the Senate infrastructure bill Senate votes to take up infrastructure deal 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 CornynSenate votes to take up infrastructure deal Biden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on Eight Republicans join Democrats to confirm head of DOJ environmental division MORE (R-Texas) and Reps. Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyTim Ryan slams McCarthy for mocking Capitol physician, mask mandate McCarthy knocks Pelosi, mask mandate: 'This House has broken the country's trust' GOP, Democrats battle over masks in House, Senate MORE (R-Calif.) and Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHoyer urges conference talks on bipartisan infrastructure bill Hoyer suggests COVID-19 rules will stay — and might get tougher Senators reach billion deal on emergency Capitol security bill 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.