Senators working on a bipartisan immigration plan indicated Wednesday that they are closing in on an agreement, with a deal possible this week.
Sen. Dick Durbin
(D-Ill.) told reporters that he hopes the group can reach an agreement before this weekend that would pair a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program with parameters agreed to after a White House meeting.
“We’re close. The president made it clear what’s important to him and we’re trying to figure out how to do it in a thoughtful way and not just include fences and things of that nature, barriers, but to go beyond into technology, which the agency, people working there, over and over again said that’s where we should start,” he said.
They are still trying to iron out the details of what border security package would be included, but Durbin said the agreement would include a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought into the country illegally as children who meet certain requirements.
In addition to border security and DACA, the bipartisan Senate group, which has been negotiating for months, has also discussed changes to the diversity lottery— potentially shifting those visas toward Temporary Protected Status recipients — and changes to family-based immigration.
Sen. Jeff Flake
(R-Ariz.), who is also part of the negotiations, echoed Durbin separately on Wednesday telling NBC News
that senators are “very close” with a deal potentially being announced this week.
Spokespeople for Flake didn’t respond to a request for comment about the status of the negotiations.
Even if the bipartisan group — which also includes Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)— is able to get an agreement amongst themselves they would still need to win over 60 senators, not to mention the more conservative House and Trump.
The Trump administration announced last year that it is ending the DACA program, which allows undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children to work and go to school.
That decision gave Congress until March to codify the program, though a court threw a curveball into that timeline on Tuesday by ruling that the Trump administration has to keep DACA in place while litigation plays out.