WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden Tuesday visited Arizona for the first time during his presidency Tuesday — but it wasn’t to visit the U.S.-Mexico border.
Biden said Tuesday “there are more important things going on,” referring his visit to the state focused on semiconductor manufacturing, a key part of his economic agenda.
But back in Washington D.C., one of Arizona’s U.S. senators is helping strike a deal on immigration reform.
Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., have reportedly drafted a framework that would create a pathway to citizenship for roughly 2 million undocumented immigrants and increase funding for border security.
If the drafted framework is made official, it would be the first piece of significant legislation put forth by members of both parties since the 2013 "Gang of Eight" that was a bipartisan Senate bill that would have created a pathway to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants.
President Joe Biden has repeatedly called on Congress to pass immigration legislation. However, attempts to pass immigration reform have failed.
Reports of the last-minute deal comes just weeks before Title 42 is set to end.
Title 42, a public health order issued by the Trump administration, allows Customs and Border Protection to expel migrants to Mexico or back to their home countries to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in holding facilities.
What does the Sinema-Tillis immigration bill look like?
The two lawmakers’ draft framework includes creating a pathway to citizenship for roughly 2 million “Dreamers,” or young, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children by their parents, in exchanged for roughly $25 billion for border security, according to NBC News and the Washington Post.
The legislation would also extend Title 42 until regional processing centers could be built; the Post reported. The processing centers would provide more resources and personnel to help process asylum claims, according to NBC News.
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said Monday that he was encouraged by the news of the agreement between Sinema and Tillis on dreamers, However, he said that “we're going to have to see if their agreement can become a basis for a broader agreement between Democrats and Republicans that captures enough votes to pass the House and the Senate.”
“I think it's a sign that there is a possibility of bipartisan action on immigration,” Klain said during The Wall Street Journal's CEO Council Summit.
It could be difficult for Biden to pass any immigration legislation in the new Congress as the House will be held by Republicans.
Past immigration reform attempts under Biden
Congress made several attempts last year to pass immigration reform.
The House of Representatives passed several bills that would create a pathway to citizenship for “Dreamers,” farmworkers and some essential workers. However, the bills stalled in the Senate.
Congressional Democrats then tried to include immigration proposals in the budget package last year that was passed through reconciliation.
However, two immigration proposals were rejected to include in the package by Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough.
One proposal would have created a pathway to citizenship for farmworkers, essential workers, immigrants with Temporary Protected Status and undocumented individuals who were brought to the United States children. The other would have changed the immigration registry date. Both proposals were rejected.
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Earlier this year, a bipartisan group of lawmakers had been meeting to try and come up with an immigration reform deal. However, no deal was ever presented.
Biden has repeatedly called on Congress to pass some sort of immigration reform. On his first day in office, Biden presented Congress with a comprehensive immigration bill.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday that immigration reform is a “priority” for Biden.
“Why can't Republicans work with us in a bipartisan way to get immigration reform done?” Jean-Pierre added. “We have come up with solutions. We understand that there's more work to do, and we're continuing to do that work.”
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Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: In bid to reform immigration, Sinema reaches across the aisle