Immigration Overhaul, Dreamer Legislation Fail

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Legislative leaders in Washington D.C. opt to allow continued ambiguity for immigrant Dreamers as they choose a partisan stance during floor votes on overhaul proposals. The Senate failures come with the March 5 end date for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program just a couple of weeks away.

In mid-February, the series of immigration bills brought to the Senate floor included a proposal touted as a bipartisan proposal identified as the bill most likely to pass. Crafted by a group led by Republican Sen. Susan Collins, the bill called for the protection of Dreamers and also included $25 billion in funding for border security, including partial segments of a southern border wall.

The bill, which President Donald Trump called a “total catastrophe” as he threatened a veto of it, “would weaken enforcement of current law and produce a flood of illegal immigration,” Reuters reports as the criticism coming from the White House. In the Senate vote, the bill failed on a 54-45 vote.

A proposal put forward by Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, the proposal backed by President Trump also failed with only 39 senators voting in support of the measure. The failed bill included the elements President Trump continually stresses– Dreamer protection, funding for a border wall with Mexico, and an end to the visa lottery program and the imposition of curbs on chain migration.

“This vote is proof that President Trump’s plan will never become law,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said. “If he would stop torpedoing bipartisan efforts, a good bill would pass.”

A bill with a narrowed focus on only Dreamer protections and border security, sponsored by Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Chris Coons, failed on a 52-47 vote. Another proposal that called for punishing sanctuary cities for their lack of cooperation on federal immigration efforts also failed.

President Trump’s decision to end DACA included his intention to force Congress to step up to its Constitutionally-mandated legislative role. While the president and much of Congress agree on extending Dreamer protections, a piecemeal approach has far less appeal in terms of negotiating room than does a general overhaul. Under President Obama’s executive order that initially brought in DACA, protections extended to around 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children.  President Trump proposes more than doubling the number of beneficiaries.

Still, some immigration advocates say President Trump’s approach to Dreamers falls short. Frank Sherry, executive director of the immigrant advocate group America’s Voice, calls the bill favored by the president “racist and radical.”

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