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 DurbinSupreme Court poised to hear first major gun case in a decade Protecting the future of student data privacy: The time to act is now Overnight Health Care: Crunch time for Congress on surprise medical bills | CDC confirms 47 vaping-related deaths | Massachusetts passes flavored tobacco, vaping products ban MORE (Ill.), a top voice on immigration on Capitol Hill, has made an offer to Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham expects Horowitz investigation to show evidence was manipulated, withheld Trump's exceptionalism: No president has so disrespected our exceptional institutions Trump, GOP shift focus from alleged surveillance abuse to Durham Russia probe MORE (R-S.C.) and White House adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerDemocrat calls for investigation of possible 'inappropriate influence' by Trump in border wall contract Judge temporarily halts construction of a private border wall in Texas Mueller witness linked to Trump charged in scheme to illegally funnel money to Clinton campaign 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 ShelbyDemocrats open door to repealing ObamaCare tax in spending talks On The Money: Economy adds 266K jobs in strong November | Lawmakers sprint to avoid shutdown | Appropriators to hold crucial talks this weekend | Trump asks Supreme Court to halt Deutsche Bank subpoenas Appropriators face crucial weekend to reach deal 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.”