Durbin says migrant deaths in Texas could be ‘Uvalde moment’ for immigration deal

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Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., says that he hopes the deaths of 51 migrants in a tractor-trailor in Texas will prove to be a “Uvalde moment” for efforts to pass a broad immigration deal.

Durbin told Politico that talks have restarted with Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., about a possible Senate deal as the two are traveling in Europe for a NATO Summit in Madrid.

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He referenced the shooting in Uvalde, Texas where 21 people were killed by a gunman at an elementary school. That massacre led to a bipartisan gun control bill passing through the chamber last week.  

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., wants the deaths of 51 migrants in a tractor-trailor in Texas to be a "Uvalde moment" for efforts to pass a broad immigration deal.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., wants the deaths of 51 migrants in a tractor-trailor in Texas to be a “Uvalde moment” for efforts to pass a broad immigration deal. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Durbin expressed hope that the deaths this week of 51 migrants in a tractor-trailer in San Antonio, Texas would provide a similar impetus for stalled efforts to pass a similar bipartisan deal on immigration. The migrants were found in the abandoned vehicle, which authorities believe was part of a human smuggling operation.

“We’ve been talking the last couple days about reviving that effort,” Durbin told Politico. “And I think what happened at the border with finding 51 dead migrants in that tractor trailer is what I would call a ‘Uvalde moment.’ I hope it sparks an interest in finding a bipartisan approach to dealing with immigration.”

Senators in both parties have been pushing for years to find a comprehensive immigration deal. Democrats sought to revive the effort at the start of the Biden administration — but Republicans balked at the inclusion of a mass amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants already in the country, especially given the ongoing migrant crisis at the southern border.

Democrats later sought to include a number of amnesty proposals in its budget reconciliation framework, but they were found to be inappropriate for inclusion by the Senate parliamentarian — and the reconciliation bill stalled in general after Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he would not support it.

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Additionally, any deal that includes a pathway to citizenship for any number of illegal immigrants is likely to face significant opposition from both the Republican base and lawmakers in Congress. Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy recently declared any “amnesty” efforts a “non-starter.”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, recently raised eyebrows with comments he made to Senate Democrats in which he said: “First guns, now it’s immigration.” The comments sparked pushback from a number of conservatives and Republicans who objected to any such effort.

His office later said that those comments were a joke: “There’s no immigration bill,” a spokesperson told Fox News Digital.

Sen. John Cornyn received backlash earlier this month when he told Senate Democrats "First guns, now it’s immigration," referring to him working with Democrats on a bipartisan gun bill. Cornyn's office later said his comments were a joke.

Sen. John Cornyn received backlash earlier this month when he told Senate Democrats “First guns, now it’s immigration,” referring to him working with Democrats on a bipartisan gun bill. Cornyn’s office later said his comments were a joke. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

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Meanwhile, two Mexican nationals living in the U.S. illegally have been charged with firearm offenses in connection to the migrant deaths in San Antonio.

Juan Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao and Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez, who both allegedly overstayed B-2 visas, have been charged through separate criminal complaints as illegal aliens in possession of firearms, according to court documents filed Tuesday.

Fox News’ Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.

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