WASHINGTON – Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, a member of the negotiating group for an immigration agreement in the upper house, said Tuesday that the text of the bill agreed to by Democrats and Republicans will be published on Wednesday, despite the fact that President Donald Trump rejects it.
“It will be available tomorrow and we’re prepared for a vote as quickly as possible,” Durbin told reporters on Tuesday after being the target of harsh criticism from the president in recent days.
Durbin added that the group of six senators from both parties is urging Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to put the bill up for a “test vote” to determine how much support it would have in the full Senate.
“And if it is successful, as I believe it will be, (I hope) that Sen. McConnell will include it as an amendment to must-pass legislation,” he said.
Durbin did not specify what “must-pass legislation” he was referring to, but Congress has approximately four days to approve a temporary budget bill to avoid a government shutdown due to the exhaustion of heretofore allocated funding.
Democrats have not commented on whether they will back the temporary funding bill if they cannot reach an immigration agreement.
Trump has given up on the immigration pact hammered out over months in the Senate by the bipartisan group after – in his latest meeting with lawmakers, including Durbin, on the subject – he reportedly called nations like El Salvador and Haiti “s---hole countries.”
The negotiating group reached an agreement in principle on a bill that would provide citizenship to more than a million young people who are now subject to deportation but who grew up in the US, a group known as Dreamers.
One of the elements of the bill is to eliminate the visa lottery, whereby the US grants 50,000 visas each year, reserving half of that number for people who have been affected by Trump’s cancellation of Temporary Protected Status for their nations.
When the senators explained their stance to Trump, according to The Washington Post, the president reportedly reacted by saying “Why do we want all these people from ‘s---hole countries’ coming here?” referring to El Salvador, Haiti and African countries.
The leak of that comment has thrown into doubt the immigration negotiations, even though Democrats had agreed to provide a certain amount of funding for the construction of the border wall with Mexico that the president has been demanding and fulfill Trump’s demands for increased funding for border security.
After more than four months of talks between Democrats and Republicans, time is running out for the more than 800,000 young people who benefitted under the Deferred Action or Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program implemented by former President Barack Obama but which is due to expire in March on Trump’s orders.