Dec 5, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan duo targets immigration reform during lame-duck

Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Thom Tillis side by side

Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). Photos: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A bipartisan duo of senators are reviving negotiations for a potential deal on immigration reform — including providing legal status for 2 million Dreamers and billions of dollars for border security — with the hope they can tackle the issue before the new Congress takes effect next year.

Why it matters: Lawmakers in both parties have repeatedly failed to clinch an agreement on bipartisan immigration reform.

Driving the news: Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) have reached an agreement on a draft framework, the Washington Post first reported.

  • Both were crucial members involved in recent successful bipartisan deals struck during the Biden administration, including infrastructure and gun reform legislation.

The loose framework, subject to change, includes:

  • A pathway to citizenship for two million Dreamers — undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
  • Roughly $25 billion-$40 billion in increased funding for Border Patrol and border security, including a commitment to hiring more agents and increasing their pay.
  • An extension of Title 42 until a formal plan is in place to stop an expected surge of migrants at the border. The law would remain in effect for at least a year, while processing centers are set up.
  • An overhaul of the asylum system to prevent abuse of the law.

What we're hearing: The talks are still in the very early stages, and the draft framework will likely be modified to include input from other members, two sources familiar with the negotiations tell Axios.

  • Their hope is to get enough support — at least 10-12 GOP senators, Axios is told — for a larger, collaborative deal in the coming days, before a federal judge forces border officials to stop using Title 42 on Dec. 21.

Timing: The duo is up against an onslaught of must-pass legislation that Congress is preoccupied with for the rest of the month, including national defense funding and a government spending bill that are top priorities for both the House and Senate.

  • That leaves little time to tackle immigration reform before Congress breaks for the holiday recess on Dec. 22.

What they're saying: "People are talking and that's a good thing," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters.

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