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Senate DACA Deal at Stalemate Over Pathway to Citizenship

schumer and durbin walking on capitol hill

WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) accused Senate Democrats of "jeopardizing the future fate" of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals beneficiaries by rejecting a DACA deal from Senate Republicans and threatening to shut down the government over the disposition of illegal immigrants brought to the country as kids.

The deadline for Congress to act to save 800,000 DACA beneficiaries from the risk of deportation is March 5, though President Trump may give lawmakers more time to work out a solution.

The deal from a working group led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) included border security provisions yet did not offer a pathway to citizenship.

Democrats led by Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) automatically rejected the proposal over the citizenship caveat, saying their red line is GOP acceptance of DREAM Act provisions that offer a path to citizenship.

“It's not just my way or the highway. We're going to have to come up with a negotiated outcome that demonstrates our compassion for these young adults who came here as children, through no fault of their own, and now find themselves trapped," Cornyn said on the Senate floor today.

“We all want a legislative solution, and we can find one as long as we quit the game-playing and the stunts and we sit down and negotiate seriously to try to come up with an avenue of relief -- one borne by typical American compassion for these young people who find themselves at a dead end, and those who believe that we need to get to the underlying causes that caused them to be in this situation in the first place," he said. “That's a lack of appropriate border security and enforcement of our immigration laws. We can do this if we quit grandstanding and quit engaging in these sorts of stunts, and I hope we will.”

Durbin told the Chicago Tribune today that he's rallying colleagues to block the year-end spending bill, even if that means a government shutdown, to push the DREAM Act through.

"We have to assert ourselves in the minority and make it clear that we are not going to vote for certain legislation — and our votes are needed — unless this is included as part of the package," he said.

"So far, I’ve gotten good responses. Not enough to say I’m confident yet but certainly to say I’m hopeful."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y) said he and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have agreed to meet with President Trump on Thursday, barring any more preceding tweets like the one that canceled last week's shutdown negotiations.

Schumer stressed on the Senate floor today that they must "come together on a bipartisan deal to pass the DREAM Act along with tough border security measures."