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White House chief of staff John Kelly attended a private meeting with a group of top senators on Tuesday regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — an Obama-era immigration program that is the subject of heated debate in Congress.
Officials from the Department of Homeland Security joined Kelly at the meeting
during which they outlined their expectations for what should be included in border security legislation, including barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Any such package is expected to include a legislative fix for the DACA program following the announcement earlier this year by the Trump administration that it would end the program which temporarily allowed illegal aliens brought into the United States as children to work and attend school.
Congress faces a mid-March deadline to pass a legislative fix for DACA or else hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens will be at risk of being deported.
Since the Trump administration’s declaration that DACA would end, senators have been negotiating on a package to create a legislative package that President Donald Trump would accept.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who participated in the meeting, advised senate negotiators who had “too much paper” to avoid putting the entire legislative package “on the backs of Dreamers,” referring to those who are DACA beneficiaries.
“Come back with what you need to include in this bill for the White House to support it,” Durbin said.
During the meeting, Kelly said that the administration could have the new list of requirements to lawmakers within days, although representatives from both parties signaled on Tuesday that Congress is not expected to take up the immigration issue until 2018.
When asked about the schedule for the legislation addressing DACA, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Tuesday that Congress will “turn to it in January.”
“We’re having meetings, ongoing meetings,” Cornyn said. “Several of us are going to be meeting with General Kelly and Customs and Border Protection tonight to talk about what the president will be looking for when he signs a bill.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., confirmed on Tuesday that an immigration deal would not pass in 2017.
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