Weeks of intense negotiations for a bipartisan deal on immigration collapsed in Congress on Thursday, leaving hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants facing possible deportation.
The rejection of four proposals in the Senate, coupled with a lack of consensus in the House, underscored the immense political pressures on Republicans and Democrats alike.
Immigration has proved intractable for years, vexing lawmakers and presidents of both parties. Breaking the stalemate in an election year seemed even more unlikely.
In a sharp rebuke, the Republican-led Senate blocked an immigration plan backed by President Donald Trump, with the bill mustering just 39 votes. It highlighted the divisions even within GOP ranks, with some wary that granting legal status to undocumented immigrants would amount to amnesty.
The House offered no answers, with conservatives threatening Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., unless he pushes a bill that provides only temporary work permits for dreamers, while also imposing border-security measures and restrictions on legal immigration that go beyond what Trump has proposed.
“I don’t think the president helped very much, but the bottom line is the demagogues won again on the left and the right,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
How the Trump administration and Congress will resolve the fate of dreamers – undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as children – remained unclear Thursday, but several senators said they hoped a solution could be included in a sweeping spending plan that must be passed by March 23.
Proposals have been floated by senators in both parties to temporarily extend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – which is set to end on March 5 – and provide some funding to begin border-security construction projects. Courts in California and New York have issued temporary injunctions requiring the administration to extend DACA; those rulings could render Trump’s deadline moot.
In the Senate on Thursday, the atmosphere was corrosive.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., blamed Trump, who had tweeted moments before the votes that the bipartisan plan was a “total catastrophe” that faced the threat of a veto.
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SOURCE: Chicago Tribune, Ed O’Keefe, David Nakamura, and Mike DeBonis