More than five months after the president terminated DACA, creating a crisis for hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth and their families, the Senate failed to reach consensus and defeated four proposals yesterday (see more below). The Senate waited 163 days after Trump terminated the DACA program and waited until 20,000 young people lost their protection to debate and vote on four proposals for a mere 1.5 hours. They adjourned for recess without passing a bill to protect DACA recipients. Immigrant youth deserve better.
Yesterday was a hard day for our movement and for the thousands of Tennesseans who need Congress to act, but we won’t stop fighting until we win permanent protections for immigrant youth. As we chart our path forward, here’s what we learned yesterday:
Immigrant youth are powerful. The fact that multiple proposals to create a path to citizenship for immigrant youth were considered at all is a testament to the power and persistence of Dreamers who forced the Senate to take action and demand that Congress solve the crisis that Trump created.
The White House framework doesn’t have support. The only proposal to get 60 votes yesterday was the one to defeat President Trump’s radical, anti-immigrant bill (the Grassley/Cornyn proposal). Despite the president threatening to veto any proposal except his own, the Senate delivered a resounding rebuke and made a strong case to keep his extreme demands out of the next round of debates.
We need a narrow solution. The majority of Americans, members of both parties, and even the president agree that Congress should pass permanent protections for immigrant youth. But that’s where the consensus stops. The future of immigrant youth shouldn’t be held hostage by extremists in the Congress and the White House who want to pass fringe immigration policies that have nothing to do with DACA recipients. Congress should support a narrow solution like the one offered in the McCain/Coons amendment.
We can’t give up now. Already 20,000 immigrant youth have lost their DACA protections. Each day another 122 individuals become vulnerable to deportation. That’s why we can’t stop fighting for permanent protection for immigrant youth that doesn't compromise safety, dignity, and opportunities for other immigrant communities.
Stay tuned for more information on where we go from here. But no matter what Congress does or fails to do, Tennessee is home for thousands of Dreamers who are #HereToStay.
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What Happened Yesterday:
The Senate needed 60 votes to advance any of the four proposals on the table yesterday, which meant that any of the options would need support from both Democrats and Republicans to pass. For more on our analysis and position on the four proposals on the table yesterday see here. All four amendments failed to garner 60 votes.
As we shared yesterday, only one of the bills was an acceptable solution to our coalition: the bipartisan, “Uniting and Securing American (USA Act)”introduced by Senators McCain and Coons. While the USA Act received support from both parties, it unfortunately failed to pass by 8 votes. The USA Act was a narrow compromise that would have created a generous pathway to citizenship and some sensible border security policies, which were drafted in consultation with border communities. Senators Alexander and Corker voted against this bipartisan solution.
The other three proposals were an anti-immigrant’s wishlist that held the futures of youth hostage in order to make fundamental shifts to our immigration system. Senator Grassley’s The Secure and Succeed Act, would have created a pathway for citizenship for immigrant youth in exchange for radically escalated militarization of the border, keeping people of color out of our country by ending the diversity visa program, and attacks on family unity. It was the only one of the proposals to receive a supermajority of 60 votes - in opposition. This fringe bill did earn the support of both Senators Alexander and Corker, who were among only 39 Senators to support the measure.
The proposal introduced by Senator Toomey, the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act, had nothing to do with DACA or immigrant youth. All it did was punish cities and other jurisdictions for doing what is best for their community's safety and for upholding the Constitution. It was a cheap attempt to score political points at a time when Congress should be focused on protecting Dreamers. It was defeated by 54-45. Senators Alexander and Corker voted for this partisan measure.
The last-minute bipartisan compromise, introduced by Senators Rounds and King, was also rejected by 54-45. TIRRC opposed this compromise bill. While it included protections similar (but more restrictive) to the Dream Act, it contained incredibly troubling provisions that restricted opportunities for the parents of Dreamers to adjust their status and would have appropriated $25 billion dollars to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for use at the border. Additionally, for the first time ever, the bill would have also codified ICE’s enforcement priorities, taking away the agency’s discretion and setting a dangerous precedent for decades to come. Senator Alexander voted in favor of this proposal and Senator Corker voted against.