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 ThuneGOP struggles to find backup plan for avoiding debt default GOP frets over nightmare scenario for Senate primaries High anxiety hits Senate over raising debt ceiling MORE (S.D.), Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet Rising number of GOP lawmakers criticize Trump remarks about minority Dems Hillicon Valley: Harris spikes in Google searches after debate clash with Biden | Second US city blocks facial recognition | Apple said to be moving Mac Pro production from US to China | Bipartisan Senate bill takes aim at 'deepfake' videos MORE (R-Ohio) and Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranBottom Line Senate GOP raises concerns about White House stopgap plan to avoid shutdown Trade truce puts focus on next steps in US-China talks 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 TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA MORE rescinded DACA in September and gave Congress a March 5 deadline for replacing it.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.

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 CollinsGOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm GOP senator: 'Outrageous' to say Trump's tweets about Democratic congresswomen are racist Fox personalities blast Trump's remarks MORE (R-Maine), Angus KingAngus Stanley KingFive things to watch for at Defense nominee's confirmation hearing Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (I-Maine) and Mike RoundsMarion (Mike) Michael RoundsGOP struggles to find backup plan for avoiding debt default Trump puts hopes for Fed revolution on unconventional candidate Senate GOP raises concerns about White House stopgap plan to avoid shutdown 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.