On Wednesday night, Sen. Susan Collins' (R-Maine) bipartisan "Common Sense Caucus" released its immigration proposal, which offers some of what President Trump has demanded but not everything, adding another option to a looming floor fight in the Senate on Thursday. The Immigration Security and Opportunity Act, with lead sponsors Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Angus King (I-Maine), would offer a 10-year path to citizenship for DREAMers — young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children — plus $25 billion over a decade for border security, and curb family-based immigration. It does not end the visa lottery program, as Trump wants, or deliver the $25 billion immediately.
Trump favors a bill sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and he has informally threatened to veto a bipartisan bill that would just tackle border security and DREAMers. Senators will likely vote on all three proposals, plus a "sanctuary cities" crackdown measure from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), on Thursday. The Grassley bill, vehemently opposed by Democrats, is not expected to get 60 votes, and Trump's opposition has dangerously imperiled the narrow DREAMer-focused bill sponsored by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.).
A senior White House official told The Washington Post on Wednesday night that the administration is "doing everything in our power" to block the Rounds-Angus bill, which the official called a "giant amnesty." Sen. Linsdey Graham (R-S.C.), a sponsor of that bill, shrugged off the veto threat. "Everything's a negotiation. We're a separate branch," Flake said, and Trump "can veto it, or he can sign it, but we've got to pass it." Peter Weber
President Trump has gone from scrapping the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program to promising, on camera, to sign any "bill of love" to protect DACA recipients that Congress sends him to, last weekend, accusing Democrats of not being serious about negotiating a bipartisan DACA replacement. Now, a senior administration official tells Axios that Trump "will veto any bill that doesn't advance his common-sense immigration reforms," severely undermining the immigration legislation being forged in the Senate this week.
One of the proposals before the Senate does roughly match the four pillars Trump wants to see in an immigration bill, but the three parts not dealing with DACA focus on long-term curtailing of legal immigration and funding Trump's border wall. "There's almost zero chance the Senate approves a bill Trump will like," Axios notes. The senior White House official, who may or may not be Stephen Miller, told Axios' Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan that Democrats who oppose Trump's approach will "be walking into a political suicide march," but Democrats don't seem to be too concerned.
"Their spin is laughably bad," a Senate Democratic official tells Axios. Trump "ended the [DACA] program. He would be deporting them. Who in their right mind would blame Democrats?" Trump is "using DREAMers as leverage to achieve immigration policies that are broadly unpopular," the Democrat added. Polls show broad support for giving DREAMers — young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children — legal status or citizenship. Two federal judges have ordered the Trump administration to continue the DACA program, at least temporarily, making Trump's March 5 deadline more or less moot. Peter Weber
The White House released the outlines of its immigration proposal on Thursday, a day after President Trump spoiled the surprise, and Chief of Staff John Kelly and Trump's immigration adviser Stephen Miller briefed members of Congress. Miller told congressional staffers that the proposal — with a path to citizenship for up to 1.8 million young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children plus $25 billion for border security and a host of conservative immigration restrictions — was designed to get 60 votes in the Senate. The initial reaction in Congress wasn't great, and it was worse outside Congress.
On the right, Breitbart News called Trump "Amnesty Don," Heritage Action's Michael Needham said that "any proposal that expands the amnesty-eligible population risks opening Pandora's box" and "should be a nonstarter," and prominent immigration restrictionist Mark Krikorian said Trump "hasn't sold out his voters yet" but this proposal poses "a real potential for disaster." On the left, United We Dream's Greisa Martinez Rosas called the plan "a white supremacist ransom note" and the ACLU demised it as a "hateful, xenophobic immigration proposal that would slash legal immigration to levels not seen since the racial quotas of the 1920s."
"Put simply: It's dead on arrival," says Jonathan Swan at Axios, who spoke with progressive immigration leaders close to top Democrats. The $25 billion for the border wall "trust fund" is at least $15 billion too high, Swan reports, and "the increase of ICE agents, faster deportations, stronger interior enforcement, and the massive cuts to legal immigration" — by 40 to 50 percent, according to liberal immigration analysts — is even worse. They wonder why that's a good trade for an idea, protecting DREAMers, that has overwhelming public support, even among Republicans. Peter Weber
The White House delivered an outline of its proposal on immigration to members of Congress on Thursday, and it includes a pathway to citizenship for up to 1.8 million undocumented young people brought to the United States as children.
White House senior adviser Stephen Miller went over the proposal with congressional staffers, and said it was crafted in a way to ensure the 60 Senate votes necessary to break a potential filibuster. On Wednesday, President Trump said he was open to a pathway to citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, and Miller said this proposal covers more people than the 800,000 protected by DACA.
The proposal also calls for $25 billion for border security, including building parts of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border; the end of a diversity visa lottery system; and the scaling back of family-based immigration, with U.S. citizens and green card holders able to sponsor only spouses and children under 18. Catherine Garcia