In a series of afternoon votes, the Republican-controlled Senate voted down a number of immigration plans Thursday. Afterward, Republicans were quick to blame Democrats and emphasize they were ready to move on from debating immigration, after just a few days and with immigrants’ lives still hanging in the balance.
Among the failed proposals was a bipartisan plan that would have paved a path to citizenship for nearly 2 million undocumented individuals who came to the United States as children, commonly referred to as “Dreamers,” in exchange for $25 billion for border security — the same amount of funding requested by the White House in their immigration framework. The bill failed 54-45, just 6 votes shy of the 60 votes needed to pass.
The measure that most closely resembled the framework put forth by the White House, a plan which would have substantially increased federal deportation powers and significantly reduced legal forms of immigration while also ending the diversity visa, failed by the largest margin — 39-60. There were reports Wednesday evening that Trump vowed to veto any immigration proposal other than his own plan.
Amendment based on Pres Trump's immig framework FAILS in the Senate (each need 60):
1- (FAILS 52-47) McCain-Coons (Just #DACA + Border)
2- (FAILS 54-45) Toomey (penalized sanctuary cities)
3- (FAILS 54-45) Rounds-King (bipartisan bill)
4-(FAILS 39-60) Grassley (Trump's framework)
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) February 15, 2018
The failure to arrive to a consensus on an immigration plan arrives just as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) Friday deadline looms. On Tuesday, McConnell said the Senate would limit its work to this week only to provide a permanent framework following the expiration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — establishing a definitive deadline for piece of immigration legislation with bipartisan support that would grant earned citizenship to 1.8 million undocumented immigrants and likely amp up immigration enforcement.
“Senators have had plenty of time to prepare,” McConnell said, according to Politico. “There’s no reason why we should not reach a bipartisan solution this week. But to do this, we need to get the debate started, look past making political points and focus on actually making law.”
In response to Thursday’s failure to produce a compromise on legislation, McConnell and other Senate Republicans elected to blame the Democrats, despite the fact it was a Republican president who ended DACA in the first place, a Republican president who backed out of previous DACA deals, and a Republican president’s immigration proposal that was the least popular out of the bunch.
McConnell on failure to advance something on immigration: Democrats failed to produce a solution..I thought we may be able to resolve this..Our friends across the aisle were unable to get something done..They turned away from a golden opportunity to resolve the issue
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) February 15, 2018
— Megan Whittemore (@MeganWhittemore) February 15, 2018
Now that all the immigration proposals have failed, Congress is back to where it started and will likely move on to other issues.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) told CNN shortly after the failed votes that he is “ready to move” on after “wast[ing] a whole week” on immigration, despite it being only three days.
Republican Sen. Kennedy on immigration: “I’m ready to move one. We wasted a whole week here. And I’m ready to move on. There are other issues in front of us.”
— Ashley Killough (@KilloughCNN) February 15, 2018
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told reporters he doesn’t foresee any additional floor time for debating DACA, saying, “We’ve got other things we have to do.”
After four failed votes, Cornyn sticks a fork in immigration debate for year. Any more floor time? “I don’t see it. We couldn’t get it together this week. We’ve got other things we have to do . .. If I were [McConnell], I’d be reluctant to spend another week of wasted time.”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 15, 2018
But what will become of the 122 Dreamers who lose their DACA status every day since Trump announced he would end the program last September? Their fate is uncertain. In January, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency announced it would accept renewal applications for DACA, following San Francisco’s federal court ruling that same month that blocked the Trump administration’s efforts to end the program.
USCIS said in a statement on its website, “Until further notice, and unless otherwise provided in this guidance, the DACA policy will be operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded on Sept. 5, 2017.”
What DACA recipients need, however, is a permanent solution, because the safety net of DACA renewals may not last for very long. The Justice Department said it would take the “rare step” of asking the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling.