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A man looks across the Rio Grande in February, while waiting to show immigration documents to officers at the U.S.-Mexico crossing in Matamoros, Mexico. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

A poll and series of focus groups has honed a one-two punch for a doable immigration deal: Give Democratic lawmakers a real path to citizenship for Dreamers, and give Republicans tight border security that's more realistic than a wall.

Why it matters: The formula — by Frank Luntz, who rose to fame as a Republican pollster but in recent years has taken a more bipartisan approach to policy — would make real progress on one of the nation's biggest tragedies that Capitol Hill has failed to confront.

  • "The pathway to an agreement is to give both sides what they want most," Luntz said.

In an exclusive preview of his findings, Luntz told me: "Republicans are more pro-immigrant than elites realize, and Democrats are more pro-border-security than elites realize."

  • "The key to immigration that most people will accept is that it must be earned, not just given."

Luntz drew on 20 focus groups to pose this climactic proposal in a poll of 1,000 registered voters that he concluded Friday:

  • "Complete the building of a physical barrier between the U.S and Mexico to ensure border security, and pass the DREAM Act, which will give the children of undocumented workers the chance to earn citizenship over time."

The result (margin of error: ± 3 points): 60% support.

  • Luntz told me majorities in both parties back that plan: "Democrats overwhelmingly support it because of the DREAM Act. Republicans overwhelmingly support it because of the physical barrier. "

Luntz over the years has recommended phrasing for Republicans that includes "death tax" instead of "estate tax," and "government takeover of healthcare" for "Obamacare."

  • Luntz told me: "I’ve changed 'wall' to 'barrier.' It's more accurate and less ugly, both visually and verbally."

The proposal fits the No. 1 recommendation former President George W. Bush made in a Washington Post op-ed in conjunction with his new book of paintings of immigrants, "Out of Many, One":

  • "One place to start is DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Americans who favor a path to citizenship for those brought here as children, known as 'dreamers,' are not advocating open borders."

Between the lines: The Luntz compromise leaves massive problems unaddressed. It does nothing to help most of those now living in the U.S. shadows, and wouldn't remedy the current border emergency. But it would be the first real movement on immigration legislation in decades.

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Go deeper

Biden border policies rebuild that wall

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden is building his own kind of border wall.

Why it matters: By maintaining a Trump-era policy allowing border agents to kick asylum seekers back to Mexico — and now allowing some migrant families to face detention and fast-track deportations — a Democrat who promised a more humane immigration approach is taking some tough stances.

1 hour ago - World

Blinken to visit Ukraine as Russia invasion threat looms

Blinken (R) with President Zelensky. Photo: Efrem Lukatsky/Pool via Getty

Secretary of State Antony Tony Blinken will travel to Ukraine on Tuesday as the country faces an ongoing threat of Russian invasion.

Driving the news: Blinken will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, as well as officials at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv to discuss contingency planning. He'll then travel to Berlin to meet German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and attend a meeting of the "Transatlantic Quad" — France, Germany, the U.K. and U.S.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

At least 3 dead after Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami

A satellite image of the explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Saturday. Photo: UNICEF/NOAA

At least three people are confirmed to have died in Tonga following the undersea volcanic eruption that sent tsunami waves toward the island nation and across the Pacific over the weekend, officials said Tuesday.

The big picture: Officials reported major damage along the western coast of the main island of Tongatapu, where the capital, Nuku'alofa, was covered in ash and dust, including on the runway of the airport. Officials in Tonga confirmed three deaths in the country's first official statement since the crisis began.

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