In a last-minute push, U.S. senators are working on a bipartisan agreement to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people who were brought to the United States as children.
But the success of any major immigration deal appears unlikely, as a lame-duck session of Congress dwindles into its last days. Democrats are set to lose control of the House come January, making the prospects of an agreement next year much more difficult.
U.S. Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat, and Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, are still in talks on a draft proposal that would create a pathway to citizenship for up to 2 million undocumented people, often referred to as Dreamers, who are either enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or would qualify for it. There is no legislative text and no deal has been finalized, Tillis told States Newsroom.
The possible agreement would also extend the controversial Title 42 policy, which allows the United States to turn away noncitizens seeking asylum during a health crisis, and allocate funding for border security. The outline would also include a pathway to citizenship for those under Temporary Protected Status, which is more than 350,000 people.
“We hope that those talks come to fruition,” U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, told reporters at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday.
More than 600,000 currently enrolled DACA recipients are in limbo, as a recent 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling upheld a lower court decision that determined the DACA program to be unlawful — though current recipients are not yet affected — and blocked the government from accepting new applications.
Many immigration advocates have argued that it’s clear that DACA will be deemed illegal by the courts, leaving uncertainty for hundreds of thousands of Dreamers.
U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois has said for weeks that he knows of roughly four or five Senate Republicans who are interested in striking a deal to pass legislation to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people enrolled in DACA. But Senate Democrats would need 10 Republican votes to overcome the filibuster threshold to pass such legislation.
On Twitter, Durbin said he was interested in reviewing the draft proposal between Tillis and Sinema.
“I am determined to do everything in my power to help deliver a Christmas miracle for Dreamers,” Durbin wrote on Twitter