AGAINST THE STREAM

Three Senate votes show Trump’s immigration ideas are far out of touch with his party

Bad dreams.
Bad dreams.
Image: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton
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The future of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers remains uncertain after the US Senate rejected three proposals that would have given them legal status on Feb. 15. One thing is clear from the votes though: president Donald Trump’s  proposals to radically remake the US’s immigration system stand no chance.

The bill that contained them, sponsored by Republican sen. Charles Grassley, was the most widely opposed—including by 14 members of his own party. It’s no doubt a disappointing result for the White House, which lobbied heavily for the proposal. In exchange for giving Dreamers a pathway to citizenship, it would have drastically cut family-based immigration and ended the diversity visa program, known as the green card lottery.

The plan that got the biggest number of votes, proposed by a bipartisan group of senators dubbed the Common Sense Coalition, was far less draconian on legal immigration. It gave Dreamers the opportunity to become citizens and included substantial funding for Trump’s border wall. Another bipartisan bill, introduced by senators John McCain and Chris Coons, gave legal status to Dreamers, but no money for the wall.

The Trump administration pulled out all the stops ahead of the vote to derail the more moderate proposals. The president threatened to veto any bill that didn’t adhere to his four pillars: legal status for Dreamers, cuts to family-based green cards, an end to the visa lottery, and funds for immigration enforcement. Its Homeland Security Department publicly blasted the Common Sense Coalition plan, saying it would turn the US into a “sanctuary nation.”

That may have been enough to block that proposal, but it didn’t do much to sell Trump’s own set of measures. Though he marketed his vision on immigration as “mainstream,” Thursday’s votes show it’s out of step with members of his own party, never mind the American public. The majority of the Americans, including large swaths of Republicans, want Congress to find a way to allow Dreamers to stay.