The Senate's Attempts to Do Anything on Immigration Go Down in Flames as Expected


With just weeks to go before the Trump administration’s self-imposed deadline to end the DACA program comes and goes, a suite of bipartisan measures aimed at addressing the United States’ immigration system were roundly rejected by the Senate on Thursday.

Chief among the now-rejected pieces of legislation was a much-anticipated bipartisan deal that had been worked on over a period of months by as many as 20 senators, CNN reported. In addition to providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought into the United States as children, the bill would have budgeted $25 billion toward border security. It was voted down by a vote of 54–45—well shy of the 60 votes needed to advance the legislation.


Also voted down on Thursday were measures aimed at penalizing sanctuary cities, as well as one that was essentially a duplicate of the immigration proposal put forth by President Trump earlier this year. Notably, the Trump proposal, sponsored by Senator Chuck Grassley, drew the least votes of any proposal, failing 39–60.

Predictably, President Trump seemed dead set on torpedoing the bipartisan deal, tweeting it would be a “total catastrophe” before endorsing Grassley’s measure.

But opposition to the bipartisan bill wasn’t limited to the president and his ultra-right wing immigration advisers. Immigrant rights advocates harshly criticized the measure for failing to protect the families of those undocumented youth and cutting down on legal immigration.


Thursday’s failure to advance any meaningful immigration legislation was predictable. In January, Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed to end the short-lived government shutdown in exchange for the promise that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would allow future debate on DACA protections. That arrangement, however, didn’t actually ensure a legislative fix, and lacking the votes in the Senate to pass their own bills unimpeded, Schumer’s bargain essentially gave away the Democrats’ only leverage in the debate.

Now, just as was clear from the start, a group of politicians that routinely fail to pass meaningful legislation about much of anything have done it again. And McConnell appeared to signal that he’s not going to do anything else about immigration anytime soon.


“If a solution is developed in the future that can pass both the House and the Senate and be signed into law by the president, it should be considered,” McConnell said, accurately describing the process in which a bill becomes a law.

Schumer attempted to lay the blame for the legislative stagnation squarely at the feet of President Trump.


But Democrats sold out undocumented people and got nothing in return. Meanwhile, with no congressional solution in sight, and with a tangle of judicial rulings on DACA’s future yet to be resolved, DACA recipients are once again left in limbo. And the clock is ticking.

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Rafi Schwartz

Senior writer. When in doubt he'll have the soup.