Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said Wednesday he thinks a bipartisan Senate immigration bill “is dead.”
He was referring to talks between Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, as well as Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin and Dianne Feinstein of California, who wanted to propose legislation in the Senate to end family separations.
“I think it’s dead, unfortunately,” Cornyn said Wednesday.
He continued, “Sen. Durbin and Feinstein want to do comprehensive immigration reform, which isn’t going to happen,” referring to the push to consider a broader immigration bill as opposed to legislation narrowly tailored to address family separations at the border.
Immigration has long been a divisive issue in Washington that consistently fails to gather consensus among lawmakers behind specific proposals – even more so during a midterm election year. Still, Cornyn’s comments highlight another issue on which leaders in Congress has been unable to act, despite calls for them to do so.
Cornyn added that “discussions” with the senators are ongoing.
“I remain hopeful,” he said. “We’ll see if we can reach common ground … It will be up to Senate Democrats as to whether they want to be constructive part of that process or if they want to engage in part in opposition. At this point I’m still holding out hope.”
After the publication of this story, Durbin told CNN in a statement Trump has the “power to end” the child separation policy.
“President Trump and his enablers in Congress have taken these children hostage to try to enact their anti-immigrant agenda into law. Republican senators who have opposed every bipartisan immigration reform effort in recent memory are now claiming they want to ‘end family separation’ by authorizing the indefinite detention of children,” Durbin said in a statement. “President Trump created this humanitarian crisis and he has the power to end it.”
The senators were trying to address the “zero tolerance” policy enforced by the Trump administration, specifically the fact that families were separated because the parents were prosecuted under the policy. Those resulting separations drew international condemnation. President Donald Trump signed an executive order ending the separation of immigrant parents from their children, but called on Congress for a permanent fix.
Meanwhile, courts around the country have ordered for separated children to be reunited with their parents, and to meet the President’s executive order, border officials stopped referring parents for prosecution.
This story has been updated with additional comments.
CNN’s Tal Kopan contributed to this report.