By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
A number of immigration reform bills were considered by the U.S. Senate, but all four proposed immigration bills failed on Thursday.
Senator Doug Jones (R-Alabama) was a cosponsor of bipartisan legislation led by Senators Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota) and Angus King (I-Maine) that would have protected 1.8 million DREAMers and provided $25 billion to strengthen border security, which are two key areas that the White House has supported.
“Bipartisanship is a word that folks like to say, but the reality is that it’s tough work. For the first time in a long while, Senators from both sides of the aisle came together – over many weeks – to hash out our differences and find a path forward on immigration reform that the majority of our colleagues could support,” Sen. Jones said in a statement. “We worked hard and had the necessary and candid conversations we needed to, all along maintaining respect and building trust within our coalition.”
President Donald J. Trump (R) had agreed to give amnesty to 1.8 million of the dreamers; but only if the border wall was built, the visa lottery was abolished, chain immigration was ended, and legal immigration was capped at 500,000 per year (that was later changed to one million a year). Democrats and moderate Republicans rejected the President’s plan. That proposal, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was defeated 39 to 60. Moderate Democrats, Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota), Joe Donnelly (Indiana) and Joe Manchin (West Virginia) voted for the Grassley-Trump proposal; however 14 Republicans voted “no”. Conservatives Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) voted no because they opposed any amnesty for the dreamers.
Sen. Grassley said in a statement, “Today is a sad day for many Americans and for many dreamers who would have had a rare pathway to citizenship. We had the opportunity to pass a bill that would have provided legal certainty for 1.8 million individuals. It would have secured the border and focused enforcement on the very worst criminals, like sex offenders, human rights violators and war criminals. And importantly, it had the President’s support and could have actually become law. It was the only immigration proposal that met the four key pillars agreed to by a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers and the President. For these reasons, the Secure and Succeed Act was the right framework, which Senators would have been able to amend. It’s unfortunate that so many of my colleagues, when given the chance to finally give citizenship to DACA kids, refused to do so.”
Democrats blame the President for the impasse.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said, “President Trump created this problem by terminating the DACA program last August. Since then, President Trump has stood in the way over every single proposal that could become law … President Trump has failed his test of leadership spectacularly.”
“Unfortunately, that same spirit of bipartisanship and compromise was not shared by the White House during these debates,” Sen. Jones said. “An all-or-nothing mentality has left us with nothing at all. But there is something that gives me hope for progress in the future, and that is the bipartisan spirit that is growing among my fellow Senators. We are committed to making positive change together and bringing even more of our colleagues to the table in the tough conversations that lie ahead.”
It now appears increasingly likely that no deal will be reached this year on the dreamers or the border wall. Both sides appear to be content at this point to go to their bases in the November election without having compromised their principles in hopes that their side will be the ones who turnout on election day.
The big question now is what happens to the dreamers, the illegal aliens who claim that their parents brought them here as children. President Barack H Obama (D) gave them legal status by executive fiat, a move that was of questionable legality. President Trump ended that policy, effective March pending legislation to deal with the situation. While most Senator voted on Thursday for one plan or another to legalize the dreamers, none of those plans came close to actually passing; thus it appears that they will once again become illegal aliens and subject to deportation while both partys prepare for the November elections.