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 ThuneMcConnell tees up votes on two abortion bills Senate votes to rein in Trump's power to attack Iran As many as eight GOP senators expected to vote to curb Trump's power to attack Iran MORE (S.D.), Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanGOP senators offering bill to cement business provision in Trump tax law Mnuchin defends Treasury regulations on GOP tax law Bipartisan lawmakers introduce bill to combat cyberattacks on state and local governments MORE (R-Ohio) and Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranThe Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in Overnight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' The 8 Republicans who voted to curb Trump's Iran war powers 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 TrumpTrump administration eyes proposal to block jet engine sales to China: report Trump takes track to open Daytona 500 Brazile 'extremely dismayed' by Bloomberg record MORE rescinded DACA in September and gave Congress a March 5 deadline for replacing it.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 CollinsToward 'Super Tuesday' — momentum, money and delegates Trump unleashed: President moves with a free hand post-impeachment Senate Democrats pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit MORE (R-Maine), Angus KingAngus KingUse of voting tabulation apps raise red flags on Capitol Hill Patrick Dempsey to star in pilot for CBS political drama 'Ways and Means' McConnell, Romney vie for influence over Trump's trial MORE (I-Maine) and Mike RoundsMarion (Mike) Michael RoundsTrump pick for Fed seat takes bipartisan fire Senate drama surrounding Trump trial starts to fizzle Overnight Defense: Trump rolls back restrictions on land mines | Pentagon issues guidance on coronavirus | Impeachment trial nears end after Senate rejects witnesses 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.