Durbin makes offer to GOP on asylum reform

Durbin makes offer to GOP on asylum reform
© Stefani Reynolds

Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocratic unity starts to crack in coronavirus liability reform fight Senators weigh traveling amid coronavirus ahead of Memorial Day Congress headed toward unemployment showdown MORE (Ill.), a top voice on immigration on Capitol Hill, has made an offer to Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDemocratic unity starts to crack in coronavirus liability reform fight Trump urges GOP to vote against bill reauthorizing surveillance powers Speculation swirls about next Supreme Court vacancy MORE (R-S.C.) and White House adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerTrump tries to soothe anxious GOP senators Press: King Donald's goal - no checks, no balances Trump faces criticism over lack of national plan on coronavirus MORE on solving the migrant crisis on the southern border.

Durbin, in a meeting with Graham and Kushner, laid out five immigration reforms he says Democrats can accept, such as requiring Central American migrants to apply for asylum from their home counties or Mexico and providing more money for immigration judges at the border.

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“I’m working with Sen. Graham about some of the policy questions,” the No. 2 Senate Democrat said. “I think I’ve identified to him five or six things I believe Democrats in the Senate and the House will support. And I begged him, ‘Take it. Move forward with it. Do it on a bipartisan basis.’ I think it will have positive impact.”

He confirmed that giving migrants the ability to apply for asylum from their home countries or Mexico and providing for more immigration judges are two areas of common ground.

“But, to make it clear, we’re not giving up on the protections Flores, TVPRA or changing the definition of asylum,” Durbin said, making reference to the 1997 Flores Settlement, which limits law enforcement from detaining migrant minors for more than 20 days, and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.

The TVPRA requires that unaccompanied minors detained by Customs and Border Protection be transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours.

Durbin said these reforms were among the immigration-related topics he discussed with Graham and Kushner on Tuesday.

Graham on Tuesday expressed hope that asylum reform provisions could be added to a $4.5 billion border supplemental spending bill expected to move through the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate floor this week and next.

Durbin, however, said any changes to immigration policy will likely have to move separately.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyTop Republican says Trump greenlit budget fix for VA health care GOP senators not tested for coronavirus before lunch with Trump McConnell, GOP senators support exempting VA health funds from budget caps MORE (R-Ala.) on Tuesday said his preference is to keep the $4.5 billion supplemental spending bill clean of policy changes.

“McConnell has said, ‘we want to keep it clean, we want to stay with the humanitarian [money],’ ” Shelby said. “We don’t want to load it up.”