The Senate next month will take up legislation that would fund the southern border wall, limit chain migration, and provide for other border security provisions, but would also meet the demand of many Democrats by creating a program for the so-called Dreamers.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said the measure might be considered as a standalone bill, but could also be wrapped up into a year-long spending deal anticipated next month. He said the deal won’t encompass comprehensive immigration reform addressing the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants, because that would be difficult to achieve in January.
Cornyn was part of a bipartisan group of senators who met Tuesday night with White House chief of staff John Kelly to discuss a compromise plan to legalize the Dreamers, who came to the United States illegally as children. President Trump has said that in early March, he would rescind an Obama-era executive action allowing Dreamers to obtain work permits, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said after Cornyn spoke that he would agree to call up a bill for a vote if a deal is reached.
"If negotiators reach an agreement on these matters by the end of January, I will bring it to the Senate floor for a free-standing vote," he said in a statement. "I encourage those working on such legislation to develop a compromise that can be widely supported by both political parties and actually become law."
Trump has called on Congress to pass a new law addressing Dreamers before the deadline.
The Tuesday meeting, Cornyn said, was to obtain “a punch list” of border security requirements from the Homeland Security Department and administration officials.
“And the idea was those would be combined with some relief for the DACA recipients and that would be the framework for an agreement,” Cornyn said.
Cornyn said the legislation would include a “border wall system” that would include not only the physical structure, but also roads, technology, and other deterrents to illegal border crossings.
Cornyn said he believes Democrats at the meeting signaled they would be willing to place limits on chain migration, which allows relatives of legal immigrants to come to the United States.
“I get the sense that they would be open to nuclear families and parents,” Cornyn said.
Cornyn said if a deal is reached, it could be included in a bill to fund the federal government through fiscal 2018. Congress is readying a short-term spending measure that would expire by January 20th.