1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Trump immigration bill suffers Senate defeat

February 16, 2018

The US Senate has rejected a series of immigration proposals, including a bipartisan bill and a plan put forward by President Donald Trump. The stalemate in the chamber suggests the issue will likely end in gridlock.

USA San Diego DACA Demonstration
Image: picture-alliance/ZUMAPRESS.com/N. C. Cepeda

US President Donald Trump's controversial immigration plans suffered a major setback Thursday, as the Senate voted overwhelmingly against both a bipartisan bill and more restrictive proposal put forward by the White House.

Trump's proposed package suffered a particularly humiliating defeat, losing by 39 votes to 60 — 21 shy of the 60 needed. At least 14 of those who voted against the president's bill were from his own Republican party.

Read more: Opinion — US budget has something for everyone but 'Dreamers'

The bipartisan bill was defeated by 45 votes to 54, six short of the 60 needed. The passage of that proposal was always unlikely, however, after Trump slammed it as a "total catastrophe" and threatened to veto it if it passed.

Infografik America's Dreamers ENG

"It looks like demagogues on the left and the right win again on immigration," said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who helped draft the bipartisan package but also backed Trump's plan. "The only way forward is for President Trump to grab the reins and lead us to a solution," he added.

Democrats, however, chided Trump's unwillingness to back a broader bipartisan deal. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said Thursday's vote was "proof that President Trump's plan will never become law," adding that "if he would stop torpedoing bipartisan efforts, a good bill would pass."

Dreamers left in limbo

The bipartisan plan crafted by moderate Republicans and Democrats would have seen the 1.8 million so-called immigrant "Dreamers" — young immigrants brought to the US illegally as children — set on a 10-to-12-year path to citizenship.

In exchange, the bill would free up $25 billion (€20 billion) in funding toward Trump's proposed wall on the Mexican border and other border security measures, rolled out over 10 years.

Trump's plan included a similar policy on Dreamers, but would have freed up border security funding all at once. It would also have ended a visa lottery scheme, a program that aims at allowing more diverse groups of immigrants into the US. It hands out some 55,000 US visas annually.

Read more: How Trump's DACA immigration crackdown tore one family apart

Thursday's vote marks the fourth Trump immigration proposal to be shot down in Senate. The bipartisan bill appeared to be the most likely opportunity for any sort of agreement making it through the Senate during this election year.

Instead, the latest stalemate leaves the futures of some 1.8 million Dreamers in limbo. The Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, was created to protect young Dreamers from deportation.

However, Trump has set a March 5 deadline for the program to be ended.

Republican Texas Senator John Cornyn indicated that lawmakers might consider temporary measures that would protect Dreamers from deportation. Such an approach "to me is not great, but that's kind of where we are," he said.

dm/cmk (AP, Reuters)