WASHINGTON – Four separate immigration proposals went down to defeat Thursday in the US Senate, leaving the young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers to wonder about their futures as the program that has protected them from deportation is set to end.
A bipartisan bill from a group led by Maine Republican Susan Collins fared best, garnering 54 votes, six short of the 60 needed to be assured of passage.
That text provided a path to citizenship for as many as 1.8 million undocumented youths – compared with the roughly 700,000 covered by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) – along with $25 billion to pay for the wall President Donald Trump wants to build on the US-Mexico border.
The White House said just hours before Thursday’s Senate voting that Trump’s advisers would urge him to veto that bill if it reached his desk.
Trump insists that in exchange for helping the Dreamers, Democrats and moderate Republicans must not only fund the wall, but also agree to substantial new limits on legal immigration.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) submitted legislation embodying Trump’s preferences, but it received only 39 votes, as 14 members of the Republican majority joined all of the Democrats in opposition.
“This vote is proof that President Trump’s plan will never become law. If he would stop torpedoing bipartisan efforts, a good bill would pass,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said afterward.
The winding-down of DACA, implemented in 2012 by then-President Barack Obama, is supposed to begin March 5, but several federal judges have issued injunctions to extend the program past the deadline pending final court decisions on a raft of legal challengers to Trump’s decision to scrap the initiative.
The Senate majority leader, Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell, sought to reassure people that Thursday’s outcome does not doom any chance of addressing the plight of the Dreamers.
“This does not have to be the end of our efforts to resolve these matters,” he said.