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Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

A bipartisan group of senators that met privately Wednesday agreed to have their staffs draft a document outlining incremental immigration changes so they "can build from there," Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told Axios.

Why it matters: The Republicans and Democrats recognize that Congress has failed numerous times to pass comprehensive reform, so now they're looking for a starting point amid a migrant surge at the southern border.

Behind the scenes: The group, led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), met behind closed doors in the Mansfield Room, steps away from the Senate floor.

  • Attendees included Cornyn and Durbin, as well as Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
  • Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) called in.
  • The biggest areas of consensus were protections for so-called Dreamers and preserving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), according to a source familiar with the discussion.

What they're saying: "I was making the argument, and I think people generally understand, that we're not going to do comprehensive immigration reform on this," Cornyn told Axios.

  • "We do incremental a lot better," he added. "Unfortunately, there's not a lot of trust. But I think if we did something that is pretty much consensus, like DACA, then that would be confidence-building, and then we'd kind of move on to the next."
  • Durbin said: “We did not reach any conclusions. ... We put many ideas on the table. And we're going to invite the administration to look at them and join us in this conversation."
  • "I think we agree on a bipartisan basis that we've got to reform the system, as far as we can take it," Durbin added.

Yes, but: There's already one hiccup.

  • While Durbin told reporters he sees the immigration bills that recently passed in the Democratic-controlled House as "starting points,” most Republicans see them as non-starters.
  • "I think that'd be a mistake. There wouldn't be any support for the House bills," Cornyn told Axios.

Go deeper

Exclusive: Koch Network, Bush Center team up on immigration

Visitors view immigration exhibit at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. Photo: Stand Together

The Koch Network and the George W. Bush Presidential Center are partnering on an interactive immigration exhibit aimed at countering stereotypes and promoting immigration reform.

The big picture: The partnership to be announced Tuesday between the right-wing network's philanthropic arm, Stand Together, and the Dallas center comes as Congress is expected to debate immigration reform proposals amid resistance from many Republicans.

Tim Scott hopes to reintroduce version of GOP police reform bill

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) told reporters Wednesday he plans to reintroduce his police reform bill or a similar proposal in the coming weeks and that he has discussed a potential compromise with Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

Why it matters: Eyes have again turned to Washington to take steps to address police reform in the wake of Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict Tuesday, after efforts stalled in Congress last year.

Chauvin verdicts reduce pressure for police reform

Vice President Kamala Harris listens as President Biden addresses the nation. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The unanimous guilty verdicts against Derek Chauvin are a huge relief for Washington’s political establishment but seem unlikely to rush in the systemic overhauls George Floyd’s family and civil rights and progressive leaders seek.

The big picture: An acquittal or mistrial involving the former police officer would have unleashed violence and days more of protests — and added bipartisan pressure to act on criminal and police reform.