On Thursday, after voting on several immigration amendments, including a promising bi-partisan agreement, the Senate failed to pass any bill to protect recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program from deportation.
The most promising bill was a crafted by Senator Rounds (R-SD), Senator King (I-ME) and Senator Collins (R-ME). It would have extended protections for the 1.8 million young people in the U.S. who qualify for DACA and provided $25 billion for increased border security.
But right before the vote, President Trump sabotaged the bi-partisan amendment by threatening to veto it. While it earned 54 votes, the bill was 6 votes short of the 60 needed to pass.
Instead Trump put all of his support behind the most extreme right-wing amendment option that gave relief for Dreamers in exchange for $25 billion to build a border wall, terminating the diversity visa program,and eliminating the process through which U.S. citizens can help their parents, adult children and siblings come to the United States. This bill, which would have implemented the sharpest limitations on immigration since the 1920s, failed sharply with only 39 votes.
If Congress can’t reach a consensus in the next two weeks, the Supreme Court could be forced to rule on whether or not Trump violated the Administrative Procedure Act when he hastily rescinded the DACA program. Two federal judges have already issued an injunction on rescinding DACA, offering Dreamers a potential life-support. Thanks to the injunction, the office of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has continued to accept DACA renewal applications.
Trump’s decisions to sabotage all attempts to resolve the DACA emergency are reportedly being pushed by Stephen Miller, a presidential adviser with a white nationalist base who is known to reinforce many of Trump’s more racist and hard-line instincts. Miller’s passion is restricting legal immigration, and as an aide to then-Senator Jeff Sessions, he had a heavy hand in undermining the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill that was passed overwhelmingly by the Senate but blocked from coming up for a vote in the House. Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly is also considered to be to the extreme far-right on immigration issues.
Media Resources: Vox 2/16/18; NPR 2/16/18; Washington Post 1/21/18