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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Senate immigration talks yield no concrete solutions

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Photo by Creative Commons

Four immigration plans were voted on this week, including one co-written by Senator John McCain. 

After a week of debate and votes on four plans, Congress has failed to find a solution to lasting immigration policy disagreements.
In order to end the government shutdown that began on Jan. 20, Sen. Mitch McConnell made a promise to Democrats to allow an open debate on immigration reform. This week, those discussions took place, but a bill has yet to be passed. Four plans were on the table in the Senate, but the inability to obtain 60 necessary votes on any bill left lawmakers empty-handed.
The first bill to be voted on was a bipartisan bill, written by Democratic Sen. Chris Coons and Republican Sen. John McCain. The Coons-McCain bill offered a path to citizenship for the 1.8 million young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and additional funding for border security, which would not include a wall on the southern border of the country. The bill failed, with a vote of 52-47 in the Senate.
The second vote was on The Toomey amendment, which was a conservative plan to punish sanctuary cities that do not uphold federal immigration policy. The penalty to these cities would be withdrawal of federal funding. With a vote of 54 to 45 in the Senate, the plan failed.
A bipartisan group, the Common Sense Caucus, released the third plan to be voted on. The Common Sense plan included a path to citizenship for the undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, while prohibiting them from sponsoring their parents for legal status. It also allowed 25 million dollars for border security. The outline was sponsored by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, but still failed by a vote of 54 to 45 in the Senate.
Last of the proposed bills, the Grassley bill, garnered attention after President Trump put his support behind it on Wednesday. The plan included the ‘four pillars’ of Trump’s ideal immigration plan, with a path to citizenship for the 1.8 million childhood arrivals, a wall on the southern border of the country and an end to policies that Trump says distribute visas randomly in a ‘visa lottery.’ In addition, the plan included a shift from policies focused on family-based immigration to ones focused on on merit. The Grassley bill failed by a vote of 39 to 60 in the Senate.
Part of the problem of each plan was fear of veto. On Wednesday, a senior administration official said Trump would veto any bill that “doesn’t advance his common-sense immigration reforms.” Schumer was vocal about Trump’s attempt to manipulate the plans.
“That’s not how our democracy works,” Schumer said. “You don’t get 100 percent of what you want in a democracy. Maybe in a dictatorship.”
Republican Sen. John Thune said this week’s failure means it’s “back to the drawing board.”
“I’ve got a proposal that maybe we’ll get a shot at one of these days, too,” Thune said. “We’ve gotta fix the issue, address the DACA problem and do something about the border.”
It could be some time before significant talks on immigration take place again, according to Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn.
“I thought the deadline and I thought the empathy that people have for these young people would be enough to change the outcome here, but apparently not yet,” Cornyn said.

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