DACA Bills Fail to Pass in Senate

By Reuben Seguritan


The Senate has failed to pass any of the four bills presented on the floor for a vote, three of which included a post-DACA plan for the Dreamers.

On February 17, 2018, Senate failed to come to a consensus as to the fate of undocumented immigrants known as ‘Dreamers’. Their decision could have sealed the deal for these young immigrants who came to the US as children without immigration documentation or inspection. It may be recalled that President Donald Trump announced last year that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would end on March 5. Without any consensus from the lawmakers, the dreamers are now left in a limbo.

The first bill called the “Clean Dream Act”, sponsored by John McCain (R-AZ) and Chris Coons (D-DE) proposed to legalize the status of dreamers without immediately increasing funding for border security and immigration enforcement. Unfortunately, this failed to obtain the necessary number of votes as it only garnered 52 votes with Republicans almost unanimously voting against it. This underscored the reality that without any funding for Trump’s wall, any DACA bill would not pass through a Republican-dominated Senate.

The second bill was proposed by a bipartisan group in the Senate called the Common Sense Caucus led by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and supported by Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Dick Durbin (D-IL). Their bill would create a path to citizenship for the Dreamers even though they would not be allowed to petition their parents to obtain legal status.  Their bill likewise promised to give $25 billion to fund border security over the next decade. This bill got 54 votes, also short of the 60 votes required for it to pass the Senate. Despite looking like it was trying to have the best of both worlds—a solution to post-DACA situation while giving in to White House demands, the latter unfortunately repeatedly threatened to veto this bill, making it hard for some Republicans to give their votes.

The third bill, which was sponsored by Chuck Grassley (R-IA), would create protection for the Dreamers by providing a path to their citizenship. The bill also proposed an end to ‘chain migration’ by removing some family-sponsored visa categories. It also proposed an ending to the visa lottery program and offered $25 billion to fund a southern border wall. This was the bill that had the President’s seal of approval but it only obtained 39 votes in its favor.

The fourth bill introduced by Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) was meant to punish so-called “sanctuary” cities but also failed by 54 to 45.

In his State of the Union Address last month, Trump announced an overhaul of the legal immigration system by ending the family sponsored preference categories for parents, sons and daughters over 18 years old and siblings of US citizens and unmarried children over 18 years old of lawful permanent residents.

This was adopted by the Grassley bill and this had the lowest support even among the GOP membership.

With what happened last Thursday, Dreamers are now placed in a limbo. Two federal judges issued an injunction against the government, preventing it from fully cancelling the program on March 5th but the federal government challenged the injunction in the Supreme Court. This could buy time for the Dreamers until Congress votes on another funding resolution on March 23rd and hopefully DACA will still remain a part of the funding negotiations.