US Senate Awaits Vote on Immigration Reform

By Polityk | 02/15/2018 | Повідомлення, Політика

Uncertainty gripped the U.S. Senate’s weeklong deliberations on immigration reform that could culminate with votes later Thursday on competing proposals to change how America handles newcomers from abroad.

As the Senate gaveled in, the Trump administration signaled strong opposition to a bipartisan immigration proposal that had been viewed as the chamber’s best chance to advance a bill.

Late Wednesday, 16 senators unveiled legislation that would offer a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, boost border security funding by $25 billion, and focus immigration enforcement efforts on criminals, threats to national security, and those arriving illegally after the end of June.

Early Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security slammed the proposal’s directive on which undocumented immigrants to target for removal as “the end of immigration enforcement in America” and added it would “only serve to draw millions more illegal aliens with no way to remove them.”

The DHS statement prompted an angry response from South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a backer of the compromise proposal.

“It seems as if DHS is intent on acting less like a partner and more like an adversary,” Graham said in a statement circulated on Capitol Hill. “Instead of offering thought and advice– or even constructive criticism — they are acting more like a political organization intent on poisoning the well.”

​President Donald Trump backs more sweeping reforms that would add limits to the current system of family-based immigration and prioritize newcomers who have advanced work skills.

Trump’s immigration agenda is encapsulated in legislation conservative Republican lawmakers introduced earlier this week. Democratic senators countered with a proposal that pairs help for young immigrants with limited border security enhancements.

Neither partisan bill is expected to get the three-fifths backing required to advance in the chamber, and conservative Republicans joined the Trump administration in heaping scorn on the bipartisan compromise, calling it a de facto amnesty for million of undocumented immigrants currently in the United States and any others who arrive in coming months.

“The race is on,” Oklahoma Senator James Lankford said. “If you can get into the country and across the border by June 30 of this year, you are in and you have amnesty. That [covers] every single individual in the country unlawfully.”

Democrats, meanwhile, accused Trump of standing in the way of bipartisan solutions.

“President Trump … has stood in the way of every single proposal that has had a chance of becoming law,” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said. “Now President Trump seems eager to spike [defeat] the latest bipartisan compromise, potentially, with a veto. Why? Because it isn’t 100 percent of what the president wants on immigration.“

Schumer added: “That’s not how democracy works. You don’t get 100 percent of what you want in a democracy, maybe [you do] in a dictatorship.”

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, argued the president’s case for major changes to immigration law.

“The DACA issue is just a symptom of our broken immigration system,” McConnell said. “So the president has made clear, and I strongly agree, that any legislation must also treat the root causes and reform legal immigration. And it must also include commonsense steps to ensure the safety of the American people.”

Last year, the president rescinded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, an Obama administration policy that allowed young undocumented immigrants to work and study in the United States. Trump gave lawmakers six months to craft a permanent legislative replacement.

Trump put an end to DACA benefits beginning March 5. While two courts have acted to extend the deadline, DACA beneficiaries are likely to be at risk of deportation unless Congress acts.