Immigration: Another Senate stalemate
The “much-hyped” immigration debate in the Senate has ended in resounding failure—leaving the “Dreamers” in limbo, said Elana Schor and Burgess Everett in Politico.com. The most popular bipartisan proposal, from the “Common Sense Caucus,” offered a path to citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, in exchange for $25 billion for border security. But that compromise was voted down last week, 54-45. A plan based on President’s Trump’s demands, which combined Dreamer legalization, border-wall funding, massive cuts to legal immigration, and the elimination of the diversity visa lottery program, was crushed, with only 39 “yes” votes. Trump deserves all the blame for this stalemate, said Dara Lind in Vox.com. He canceled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program last September, then promised to sign any compromise bill reauthorizing it—before producing a “laundry list” of restrictionist conditions Democrats would never accept. Last week, he did “everything he could to kill a deal,” signaling that he’d veto any bipartisan proposal that didn’t meet his unrealistic demands.
Many Senate Republicans felt it was Democrats who were being unrealistic, said Haley Byrd in WeeklyStandard.com. They knew that the more conservative House, “where bipartisan immigration bills go to die,” would be unlikely to approve the compromises that Trump ardently opposed. Still, Trump blew a big opportunity here, said Gregory Krieg in CNN.com. He could have delivered on his “dearest campaign trail promise”—building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border—while solving an immigration issue that “breaks heavily in Democrats’ favor.” Having successfully used the Dreamers to get leverage for his wall, the president “couldn’t take yes for an answer.”
“Now we’re headed for a game of chicken,” said Aaron Blake in WashingtonPost.com. Two federal courts have issued orders blocking Trump’s cancellation of DACA as of March 5, orders that the White House is appealing. Meanwhile, administration officials have said they will not “prioritize” deportations of Dreamers. Republicans hope the uncertainty for DACA recipients will eventually force Democrats to cave in to Trump’s demands; Democrats think the GOP will crack once voters see Dreamers being deported “because of an action Trump took.” That’s an ugly way to force a decision, but Congress usually fails to act “until there’s a crisis affecting real people.”