WASHINGTON—Passing substantial immigration reform laws has proven impossible for Congress for more than a decade. And this week was no exception.
Four Senate immigration bills failed to go anywhere this week in a flurry of action before the March 5 deadline President Donald Trump gave Congress to legislate a permanent fix for the Deferred Action for Children Arrivals (DACA) group.
Trump responded with a tweet on Feb. 16, “Cannot believe how BADLY DACA recipients have been treated by the Democrats…totally abandoned! Republicans are still working hard.”
Cannot believe how BADLY DACA recipients have been treated by the Democrats…totally abandoned! Republicans are still working hard.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 16, 2018
Sen. Chuck Grassley’s “Secure and Succeed Act,” which was based on Trump’s priorities and backed by the White House, failed with a 39–60 vote, in the final vote of the day on Feb. 15.
The Grassley legislation was based on Trump’s four immigration priorities and included tighter border security, along with funding for a border wall, an end to the diversity visa lottery, replacing chain migration with a merit-based system, and to provide DACA recipients with a pathway to citizenship.
The first vote was for a bill by Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that did not include funding for a border wall. It failed on a 52–47 vote.
The second was Sen. Pat Toomey’s (R-Pa.) bill that would have withheld federal funding from sanctuary jurisdictions that failed to cooperate with immigration authorities. Toomey’s bill failed with a vote of 54–45.
The third bill, which failed in a 54–45 vote, was introduced by a group led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). Trump had threatened to veto this bill if it reached him.
The Collins bill would have rendered Homeland Security unable to remove most of the estimated 11 million illegal aliens who are currently in the United States, as well as any who could get here by June 30, 2018.
Homeland Security could only remove criminal aliens, national security threats, and those who arrive after June 30—which would create a “massive surge at the border for the next four months,” the department said in a fact sheet published on Feb. 15.
DHS said the amendment would be “the end of immigration enforcement in America.”
The White House released a statement on Feb. 15 saying “Schumer Democrats … are not serious about DACA, they are not serious about immigration reform, and they are not serious about homeland security.”
“Today, they sided with an extreme fringe over the hardworking men and women of the Department of Homeland Security.”
Schumer responded by tweeting, “This vote is proof that @realDonaldTrump’s plan will never become law. If he would stop torpedoing bipartisan efforts, a good bill would pass.”
This vote is proof that @realDonaldTrump's plan will never become law. If he would stop torpedoing bipartisan efforts, a good bill would pass.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) February 15, 2018
The White House is now looking to the House to continue advancing the proposal from Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas).
The Goodlatte bill is the most comprehensive so far, containing much of what the Grassley bill covered, as well as legislation against sanctuary cities and the mandatory introduction of E-verify, which would hamper businesses from hiring illegal aliens.