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Senate Democrats not sold on bipartisan immigration deal

Senate Democrats not sold on bipartisan immigration deal
© Greg Nash

Senate Democrats say part of the caucus has serious concerns about a bipartisan immigration compromise, underscoring the uphill path for the proposal to get 60 votes. 

"I'm telling you, there are people with serious issues over this compromise," Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinLawmakers point fingers at Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi's death Durbin calls for expulsion of Saudi ambassador in response to Khashoggi's death Durbin to Trump: ‘We’re the mob? Give me a break’ MORE (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, told reporters Wednesday after a closed-door caucus meeting.
 
 
While it wouldn't touch the State Department's diversity visa lottery, senators — speaking to reporters while carrying around text of the legislation — said it would prevent "Dreamers" from sponsoring a parent who knowingly brought them into the country illegally. 
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Durbin said the fate of the parents and funding for a controversial U.S.-Mexico border wall are two sticking point viewed by some members of the Democratic caucus as "unacceptable." 
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"We're not there yet. We still have to solidify our caucus," he said, asked if the bipartisan group's proposal had the support to pass. 
 
If the immigration deal can win over every Democrat — which is not guaranteed — supporters would need to win over 11 Republicans to overcome a 60-vote threshold. 
 
"Look, we won't know until we get to the floor and get to a final vote if this gets 60. ... There are a number of strong concerns among Democrats about the concessions," said Sen. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsDem senators urge Pompeo to reverse visa policy on diplomats' same-sex partners 15 Saudis identified in disappearance of Washington Post columnist The Senate needs to cool it MORE (D-Del.). 
 
Asked as he was leaving the caucus meeting if the deal could pass, Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerManchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia The 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' MORE (D-N.Y.) turned toward reporters and appeared to be about to say something, before ultimately walking away. 
 
“This is one of the hardest issues Congress has had to grapple with in recent years. Each side has had to give a great deal, but we are closer than we have ever been to passing something in the Senate to help the Dreamers,” Schumer said later in a statement.
 
Parents of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients have emerged as a flashpoint in the months-long immigration negotiations. 
 
Progressives are loath to include any changes to family-based or legal immigration as part of the negotiations. Many Republicans, however, view the changes as a must if a path to citizenship is on the table for the children. 
 
 
House Democratic leaders have repeatedly said that any changes to family-based immigration or the State Department's diversity visa lottery are non-starters for them.
 
Coons and Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain calls Russian attacks against her father the 'highest compliment' to her family Arizona Dems hope higher Latino turnout will help turn the state blue McConnell: GOP could try to repeal ObamaCare again after midterms MORE (R-Ariz.) are offering an amendment that would just deal with DACA and border security. But Coons said on Wednesday that he expected the measure would garner "very few" Republican votes, meaning it will fall short of 60. 
 
He added that the bipartisan group's compromise is a "really strong proposal" that deals with most of the four pillars preferred by the White House. 
 
"[This] strikes me as having touched three of the pillars that we have heard over and over," he added. 
 
Under a deal reached in January, lawmakers agreed to focus on four "pillars" in the immigration negotiations: DACA, border security, family-based immigration and the visa lottery. 
 
 
Democrats counter that changes in enforcement fall outside the scope of the four pillars.