Sen. Flake attempts to slip in DACA deal with citizenship option
According to a bipartisan group of senators, they have a created a deal which will provide protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, but President Donald J. Trump and other members of the GOP are not in agreement.
The senators have lamented that their efforts for the so-called “Dreamers” are being held off by Republicans. The bill is expected to include legalization for DACA recipients, a border security package, changes to the State Department’s diversity visa lottery program and a change to prevent chain migration.
According to The Hill:
Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on Thursday that the group of six senators has locked down an agreement amongst themselves on pairing a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program with a border security package.
“We’ve got this bipartisan group. We are at a deal. … It’s the only game in town,” Flake told reporters.
But Durbin and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) were told during a Thursday meeting with President Trump at the White House that he was not ready to sign onto the bill.
“We were hoping for that, but the president is not prepared to do that at this moment,” Durbin said when asked if they wanted the president’s support before they moved forward with their agreement.
The group of senators holding the talks — which also includes Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.) and Robert Menendez (N.J.) and Republican Sen. Cory Gardner (Colo.) — have been negotiating for months on a deal that would include a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Their bill is expected to include legalization for DACA recipients known as Dreamers as well as a border security package and changes to the State Department’s diversity visa lottery program and family-based immigration policies.
Those four parameters are in line with what President Trump and lawmakers agreed to during a White House meeting earlier this week. The six senators said in a joint statement on Thursday afternoon that they have reached an agreement, which would include a path to citizenship.
“President Trump called on Congress to solve the DACA challenge. … We are now working to build support for that deal in Congress,” they said.
Durbin said the bill would include a pathway to citizenship not only for current DACA recipients, but other undocumented immigrants who would qualify for the program.
During a press briefing, Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “There has not been a deal reached yet. However, we still think we can get there and we are very focused on trying to make sure that happens.”
Flake has indicated that changes to family-based immigration would be narrowly focused on the DACA population and their family members, but not to the entire immigration population.
The Hill also reported:
Flake also said that senators had discussed reallocating some of the State Departments diversity lottery visas to people who have Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a program the Trump administration has been scaling back.
Both Flake and Durbin have declined to discuss specific border security numbers. But Durbin indicated on Wednesday night that the border security package would include funding for fencing and barriers, but also technology.
Durbin confirmed that he believed the group has an agreement and they are “working to get support from the other senators, on both sides of the aisle, and we won’t be releasing draft or final version at least through through the weekend.”
Staffers for Durbin, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) are expected to meet on Thursday as part of separate discussions to figure out a path forward.
Still, the White House suggested the emerging Senate agreement was not something Trump would accept, even though the president on Tuesday suggested he would sign whatever immigration bill lawmakers sent to his desk.
Marc Short, the White House’s director of legislative affairs, said that the president has not signed onto the agreement and that there is a “long ways to go.”
He added that the White House is “not looking for DACA to be the DREAM Act” — referring to the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act that provides a path to citizenship.
Short added that the president wants changes to “chain migration” to go broader than just impacting the DACA population, a potential hurdle from the bipartisan Senate group’s deal.
“I think we’re pleased that bipartisan members are talking … but I still think there’s a ways to go,” he said.
Cornyn said a message had been delivered that the bipartisan group would not be able to single-handily decide what the final DACA agreement is.
“I think what the president told them is its fine for them to negotiate … but what they need to do is share that with others so it will have broad enough support to actually get passed,” he said.
Press Sec. Sarah Sanders on DACA: “There has not been a deal reached yet. However, we still think we can get there.” pic.twitter.com/d1S73Dp0t1
— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 11, 2018
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