The deal is being negotiated without input from the Trump administration, the Senate minority whip said.
“We’re kind of at the congressional level right now, the senatorial level. At some point we want to reach out to the White House,” the Illinois Democrat said.
The goal is to find consensus within the Senate and present it to the administration, Durbin said. The deal still under discussion would likely include Durbin and Graham’s so-called DREAM Act, which would provide legal status to the young immigrants currently enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, as well as enhanced border security measures.
The program, implemented through a 2012 executive action by President Barack Obama, provides work permits and social security numbers to almost to 800,000 individuals who were brought to the United States illegally as children.
“We’re going to have to be open to ideas and approaches that might not have originated from Democrats but are important to reach our goal,” the Illinois Senate minority whip said.
Durbin said it’s encouraging that Speaker Paul D. Ryan reportedly wants to get a DACA fix done this year as part of the year-end omnibus but he said he’d like to pass something sooner.
“I want to grab the first train leaving the station. … I hope it’s before the omnibus bill,” he said.
Durbin added that lawmakers “cannot in good conscience go home for Christmas without seeing this law passed.”
While Trump originally expressed support for an immigration deal, the administration then circulated a list of demands for an immigration bill that includes several provisions that could hinder support from Democrats.