WASHINGTON, D.C.: The US Senate blocked several immigration proposals on Thursday (Friday in Manila) including a bipartisan compromise opposed by President Donald Trump, dashing hopes that Congress will soon decide the fate of nearly two million migrants brought to the country illegally as children.
Trump had threatened to veto the bipartisan deal, which would shield the young immigrants from deportation in exchange for $25 billion in border security, because it did not include the restrictions on legal immigration he has sought.
The Senate’s Republican leadership had set aside this week to reach an agreement on putting 1.8 million so-called “Dreamers” on a pathway to citizenship, boosting border security, and potentially tightening up existing regulations on immigration.
Their efforts failed spectacularly, leaving the entire process up in the air.
Lawmakers were heading home to their districts for 10 days to reassess, with just weeks to go before a March 5 deadline, after which thousands could be at risk of deportation.
Meanwhile, US courts may have a say in whether Dreamers get deported from that date. Two judges recently blocked Trump’s order to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects some 690,000 Dreamers.
Another 1.1 million were eligible but did not sign up.
Trump administration officials have petitioned the US Supreme Court to take up the case.
All four proposals put forward on Thursday failed—including the bipartisan deal that earned majority support in the 100-member chamber but ultimately fell six votes short of the 60 needed to advance legislation.
That plan was blasted by Trump as a “total catastrophe” because his administration said it would dramatically reduce immigration enforcement.
The White House piled on, calling the bipartisan plan “massively reckless” and brandishing the threat of a presidential veto.
Trump instead pushed his own framework, which would also resolve the legal status of the 1.8 million immigrants and provide $25 billion for border security, including funding his much-cherished border wall, while ending a diversity visa lottery and limiting family reunification.
But the Senate roundly rejected that package by a 39-60 vote, sending the White House a sharp message that many in Trump’s own party were unhappy with the president’s involvement in the process.
“It thought we may be able to resolve this,” a dejected Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said afterwards, pointing his figure at Democrats for missing what he described as a “golden opportunity” to seal legal status for nearly two million immigrants.
Trump, he said, came “clearly more than halfway to meet the Democrats on this issue.”
Later in a statement, the White House blasted the Democrats, saying they were “held hostage by the radical left in their party” and “not serious” about DACA, immigration reform or homeland security.
“Today, they sided with an extreme fringe over the hardworking men and women of the Department of Homeland Security,” the statement said, adding Trump’s administration would continue to push for a package including “a reasonable DACA solution.”