Senate Gang of Four to Meet next Week on Immigration

A new bipartisan Gang of Four plans to meet next week to begin in-depth negotiations on a bill to solve the problem of mass detentions and child separation at the U.S.-Mexico border.

GOP Sens. Thom Tillis (N.C.) and Ted Cruz (Texas), the original co-sponsors of a Republican measure to keep detained families together at the border, are meeting with Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) and Dick Durbin (Ill.) next week to lay the groundwork for a compromise.

“It’s really to bridge the gap,” Tillis said of the meeting’s purpose. “We need to go through what-if scenarios so that we can address the legitimate concerns of two- or three-year detentions if the courts get clogged up.”
“Those are all solvable problems,” he said.

He emphasized that the legislation he introduced with GOP colleagues was kept simple in hopes of attracting bipartisan support.

The goal is to “solve a very clear crisis with a very clear fix,” Tillis said.

Feinstein, the senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, played an active role in helping to organize a meeting of senators Wednesday afternoon that was hosted by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) in hopes of finding a way forward on the thorny immigration issue.

Feinstein extended an offer Thursday to Tillis and Cruz to meet next week.

Durbin was a member of the Gang of Eight that drafted bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform in 2013, which the Senate passed but was later blocked by the House.

Durbin, the Senate Democratic whip, said he is open to backing compromise legislation as long as it’s reasonable — even though he would prefer that President Trump act to reverse his “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which has resulted in an increase in incarcerations.

“I’m sure we’ll look for alternatives that are reasonable,” he said.

Cruz said he “hopes” Democrats are willing to negotiate, but he thinks some members of their caucus would prefer nothing to pass so they can have political ammunition for the fall’s midterm elections.

By Alexander Bolton for THE HILL
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