After months of negotiations, senators failed to advance a bipartisan proposal to resolve the future of millions of young undocumented immigrants.
Bipartisan deal that would have paired a pathway to citizenship for nearly 2 million undocumented immigrants failed. This immigrants came to the US as children with $25 billion in border security. They failed to get the 60 votes necessary to advance legislation after furious White House opposition.
The vote was 54-45.
A competing White House-backed plan that would have also substantially increased federal deportation powers, heavily cut family-based legal migration and ended the diversity visa also failed, 39-60.
White House was able to kill momentum for a deal that had emerged out of weeks of talks by roughly 20 bipartisan senators.
Trump called the bipartisan bill “a total catastrophe,” tweeting that “Voting for this amendment would be a vote AGAINST law enforcement, and a vote FOR open borders.”
Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, said on the Senate floor that the plan would be called the “olly olly oxen free amendment.”
The legislation from a group of 16 bipartisan senators would offer nearly 2 million young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children before 2012 — like those protected under DACA — a path to citizenship over 10 to 12 years.
The plan would also place $25 billion in a guarded trust for border security. Also, would cut a small number of green cards each year for adult children of current green card holders. And would prevent parents from being sponsored for citizenship by their US citizen children, if those children gained citizenship through the pathway created in the bill or if they brought the children to the US illegally.
Sen. Susan Collins said she was “very disappointed” as she left the chamber. “I fear we’re going to end up with nothing getting 60 votes. And so we’ve got real problems that we need to solve,” the Maine Republican told reporters.
“I think it has to come back because the March deadline, but I don’t know in what form or how,” she added, referring to Trump’s move to end DACA on March 5, although that plan is currently blocked in the courts.
“I thought the deadline and I thought the empathy that people have for these young people would be enough to change the outcome here, but apparently not yet,” Cornyn said.
Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, who voted against the bipartisan amendment, said he doubts Congress will return to immigration after it gets back from next week’s recess.
“I’m ready to move on. We wasted a whole week here. And I’m ready to move on. There are other issues in front of us.”
He was very critical of leadership for the way this was all handled.
That’s not what happened. And we wasted a whole week. There was virtually no debate. There was less than an hour of debate.”