GOP senators float fallback plan to protect Dreamers

GOP senators float fallback plan to protect Dreamers
© Greg Nash

Three Republican senators floated a fallback plan Thursday to protect hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants facing deportation in exchange for $25 billion in border security.

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenators grill safety regulator over self-driving cars Tensions rise in Senate's legislative 'graveyard' Overnight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul MORE (S.D.), Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanTrump lunches with two of his biggest Senate GOP critics Budget process quick fixes: Fixing the wrong problem Why Republicans are afraid to call a key witness in the impeachment inquiry MORE (R-Ohio) and Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranSenate Democrats unveil priorities for federal privacy bill Microsoft embraces California law, shaking up privacy debate It's time for Congress to establish a national mental health crisis number MORE (R-Kan.) floated a measure that would extend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program indefinitely in exchange for $25 billion in border security funding.

It would require DACA recipients to reapply to the program every two years and cap expenditures for border security infrastructure at $5 billion per year.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpWatergate prosecutor says that Sondland testimony was 'tipping point' for Trump In private moment with Trump, Justice Kennedy pushed for Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination: book Obama: 'Everybody needs to chill out' about differences between 2020 candidates MORE rescinded DACA in September and gave Congress a March 5 deadline for replacing it. President Obama established the program in 2012 with an executive order, drawing criticism from Republicans, who said he exceeded his constitutional authority.

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Thune hailed the backstop plan to protect "Dreamers" as “commonsense legislation” that would extend permanent protection and take a “meaningful step toward enhancing border security.” 

Portman called it “a sensible and fair solution” that would “codify the protections for the DACA population while also putting in place stronger border security measures consistent with the president’s proposal.”

The bill would also require the secretary of Homeland Security to make an annual report to the Senate and House Homeland Security panels about the status of fence construction along the U.S.-Mexico border and the estimated number of unlawful crossings. 

The trio of Republican senators unveiled their backup plan after the Senate defeated three proposals to protect Dreamers.

An amendment favored by Trump that would have created a path to citizenship for 1.8 million immigrants who entered the country illegally as children, allocated $25 billion for border security, limited the weight of family relationships in granting green cards and overhauled the diversity visa lottery program failed by a lopsided vote of 39 to 60. 

A narrower bill backed by centrist Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTrump steps up GOP charm offensive as impeachment looms Romney calls lunch with Trump 'delightful' Trump lunches with two of his biggest Senate GOP critics MORE (R-Maine), Angus KingAngus KingOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog slams agency chief after deputy fails to cooperate in probe | Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act | Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows by six members Senators fear Syria damage 'irreversible' after Esper, Milley briefing MORE (I-Maine) and Mike RoundsMarion (Mike) Michael RoundsSenate approves stopgap bill to prevent shutdown Hillicon Valley: Facebook launches 'News Tab' | Senate passes bill to take on 'deepfakes' | Schumer outlines vision for electric cars Senate passes legislation to combat 'deepfake' videos MORE (R-S.D.), which would have created a path to citizenship for Dreamers in exchange for $25 billion in border funds, fell six votes short of the 60-vote hurdle needed to advance. 

It is unclear when, or if, the Senate will return to immigration legislation. The chamber is out of session next week for the Presidents Day recess.