The Senate Debates Immigration Reform
On February 12, 2018, the Senate voted 97-1 to proceed with the neutral "shell" H.R. 2579 bill (one without any immigration provisions), to be used as the vehicle to commences the Senate's debate on immigration. Read transcripts of Senate Majority and Minority leaders' opening statements on immigration debate.
A few days later, on February 15, 2018, the Senate voted on the following four amendments on immigration, none of which received the 60 votes needed for passage. AILA expressed deep disappointment in the failure of the Senate to pass commonsense reforms to protect Dreamers.
- S.Amdt. 1955: A Dream Act and Border amendment introduced by Senators Coons (D-DE) and McCain (R-AZ). Votes: 52 Yeas, 47 Nays.
- S.Amdt. 1948: A Sanctuary Cities amendment to SA 1959 introduced by Senator Toomey (R-PA). Votes: 54 Yeas, 45 Nays.
- S.Amdt. 1958: A Dream Act and Border amendment introduced by Senators Rounds (R-SD) and King (I-ME). Votes: 54 Yeas, 45 Nays.
- S.Amdt. 1959: A substitute amendment that mirrors the White House plan introduced by Senator Grassley (R-IA). Votes: 39 Yeas, 60 Nays.
AILA supported the bipartisan McCain-Coons amendment (SA 1955) which included the best protections for Dreamers, smart border security reforms, and provisions on immigration judges. AILA issued a vote recommendations opposing the Toomey amendment (SA 1948) and the Grassley amendment (SA 1959).
On the Rounds-King amendment (SA 1958), AILA provided analysis to Congressional staff, but did not issue a vote recommendation.
One Pagers on Amendments:
- One Pager on Toomey 1948: Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act
- One Pager on Rounds-King Amendment
- One Pager on Coons-McCain Amendment
- One Pager on Secure and Succeed Act
Government Statements on Amendments:
- DHS Statement on Border Security and Unaccompanied Children/Family Units
- DHS Statement on Sanctuary Cities
- DHS Statement on Family Immigration and the Diversity Visa Lottery
- DHS Statement on a Border Wall
- DHS Issues Statement on Schumer-Rounds-Collins Proposal
- DHS Issues Statement on McCain-Coons Proposal
- DHS Issues Statement in Support of the Secure and Succeed Act
- White House Issues Statement on Schumer-Rounds-Collins Proposal
Transcript from the Senate Floor (February 12, 2018)
- Senate Minority Leader Schumer (D-NY) Opening Statement to Immigration Debate Sen. Schumer: Now on to the business of the day. Mr. President, on the heels of passing a significant bipartisan budget deal, the Senate returns this week to grapple with one of the most contentious of issues, immigration. Leader McConnell, to his credit, has promised debate on a neutral bill with amendment process fair to both sides. Democrats and Republicans are working hard to find a bill to protect the Dreamers and provide border security that will garner 60 votes. No easy task. I'm sure we'll have an opportunity to vote on a few ways to do it, but the key is to find a consensus bill largely acceptable to a significant number members in both parties. The purpose here is not to make a point, as the republican leader just said, that's easy. The purpose is to get something done. That's hard, but it really is so important. It won't be easy, it's certainly achievable. Democrats are fully committed to protecting dreamers and we have long supported effective border security. Many republicans are in the same boat. The only enemy here is overreach. Now is not the time to place, nor the place, to reform the entire legal immigration system. Rather, this is the moment for a narrow bill and every ounce of our energy is going into finding one that can pass. Just like on the budget, this an opportunity for the Senate to lead the nation. Let the same spirit of bipartisanship and compromise that generated the budget deal carry forward this week as we debate the fate of the dreamers.
- Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) Opening Statement to Immigration Debate Sen. McConnell: Now, on another matter, as I have repeatedly stated, now that there is an agreement on long-term government funding, the senate will proceed to a fair debate over the DACA issue, border security, and other matters pertaining to the subject of immigration. This process begins in just a few hours. we will vote to proceed to an unrelated, neutral house-passed bill that will serve as a vehicle for any legislation that succeeds here in the senate. As I have repeated many times, I will ensure that a fair amendment process gives senators the opportunity to submit proposals for consideration and votes. I hope this body can seize this opportunity and deliver real progress toward securing our border, reforming aspects of immigration policy, and achieving a resolution for individuals who are brought to our country illegal when they were young. The American people have heard no shortage of rhetoric on this issue. They have heard many of my colleagues across the aisle insist this issue requires swift action. Now is the time to back up the talk with the hard work of finding a workable solution. That means finding an agreement that can pass the Senate, pass the House, and which the President will sign. Not just making a point. A number of my colleagues, Senator Grassley, Cornyn, Tillis, Perdue, Lankford, Cotton, and Ernst will introduce a balanced proposal that tries to meet these requirements. I support the president's proposal and my colleagues' legislation to implement it. The Secure and Succeed Act is fair, addresses both sides' most pressing concerns, conforming to the conditions the president has put forward. It offers a compassionate resolution for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. In exchange, this solution delivers funding for President Trump's promise to fully secure the border, reforms our approach to extended family chain migration, and reallocates our arbitrary visa lottery into a more sensible merit-based system. This legislation is a fair compromise that addresses the stated priorities of all sides. It's our best chance to producing a solution that can actually resolve these matters. Which requires that a bill pass the Senate, pass the House, and earn the President's signature. It has my support. The time for political posturing is behind us. nNw we have an opportunity to resolve the issues. I hope we make the most of it.