Kushner meeting with senators to craft asylum deal

Kushner meeting with senators to craft asylum deal
© Greg Nash

President TrumpDonald John TrumpCould Donald Trump and Boris Johnson be this generation's Reagan-Thatcher? Merkel backs Democratic congresswomen over Trump How China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade MORE's son-in-law and adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerKim Kardashian West thanks Trump, Kushner for helping efforts to free A$AP Rocky from Swedish jail EXCLUSIVE: Career officials rebut claims of White House interference in security clearance process Meghan McCain calls Trump rally 'really dystopian' MORE met with top senators this week to try to find a deal on changing U.S. asylum laws.

Kushner met on Tuesday with Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamScarborough sounds alarm on political 'ethnic cleansing' after Trump rally The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants GOP rattled by Trump rally MORE (R-S.C.) and Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Democrats warm to idea of studying reparations Senate approves long-delayed tax treaties in win for business MORE (D-Ill.), who have taken the lead within their caucuses on immigration policy, to see if there was a path toward a deal that could pass the Senate and win over Trump, who has made hard-line immigration rhetoric a pillar of his political career.

Both Graham and Durbin acknowledged that they didn't leave the meeting with an agreement, but in a sign of progress, Graham said he is postponing a Thursday markup of his asylum legislation to try to give their negotiations time.

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"We're talking. I'm going to postpone the markup and see if we can find some kind of way," Graham said. "Give it a chance."

Graham expressed uncertainty when asked if the two were close enough to an agreement that such a delay could give them time to reach a deal.

"I don't know. I know I feel the need to try. And he's asked to try and we'll try," he said.

Graham's bill had been panned by Democrats over a provision that would overhaul the Flores settlement, which states that minors can be detained for up to 20 days. Graham's legislation would change that to 100 days, an expansion that is sure to spark widespread backlash from Democrats.

It also includes provisions like adding more immigration judges and allowing asylum-seekers to request asylum from their home countries, two areas Democrats tentatively say they could support.

Though Graham could clear his bill through the GOP-controlled Judiciary Committee without help from Democrats, he would need their support to get the bill through the full Senate, much less the Democratic-controlled House.

Legislation faces an uphill, if not impossible, battle on Capitol Hill. Immigration has emerged as a fierce political issue during the Trump administration, with bases in both parties drawing a hard line on what sort of deal they would accept.

Durbin said he didn't get a sense during the meeting about where the White House was on a potential deal.

A spokesperson for Kushner didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

But Durbin said Wednesday that he's outlined five areas to which he could agree. None of them, according to Durbin, include three things Graham believes are crucial for a deal.

"There are five [areas] that I can put on the table that I would agree with, they don't include Flores, TBPRA and/or changing the definition of asylum," Graham said, referring to a requirement that only allows asylum-seekers from Mexico and Canada to be returned to their home countries.

"Those are three things that Lindsey Graham walks in the door looking for," Graham added. "I can give them five, but it falls short of what Lindsey is looking for."