Immigration Bills Die in the Senate

“The Republican-led Senate on Thursday blocked both President Trump’s immigration plan and a bipartisan alternative, a failure that cast doubt on whether Congress will ever resolve the fate of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants,” the Washington Post reports.

“The failed votes could plunge the nation’s immigration system into further crisis, as millions of ‘dreamers’ are set to lose legal protections when the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is set to end on March 5. Federal court challenges continue, meaning the program may continue under legal limbo until June.”

Trump’s immigration plan got 39 votes. The other three plans got 52, 54, and 54 votes,  despite the president’s veto threats.

White House Threatens to Veto Bipartisan Bill

The White House “issued a veto threat against a bipartisan immigration plan in the Senate that was emerging as the best hope for a legislative deal, likely dooming congressional attempts to protect younger undocumented immigrants known as ‘dreamers’ from possible deportation,” the Washington Post reports.

Jonathan Swan: “This is a big deal. Veto threats are rare at this stage of the legislative process.”

Earlier for members: Trump Doesn’t Want an Immigration Deal

Senate Heads to Immigration Showdown

Bloomberg: “A series of procedural votes likely Thursday will focus on two proposals. The bipartisan plan would give 1.8 million young immigrants, known as dreamers, a path to citizenship and provide $25 billion for border security. The second, backed by Republican leaders, would include those provisions plus other priorities of President Donald Trump, including strict limits on family-based migration and an end to a diversity visa lottery. Democrats reject those proposals.”

“In a hardball tactic, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky decided a vote on the GOP plan would come last. That will make it harder for GOP lawmakers who might be willing to back the more modest bipartisan measure, which was conceived by a group of senators that included eight Republicans. They won’t be able to see if the Trump plan fails first and then move to the pared-down bipartisan measure as a fallback.”

Bipartisan Immigration Deal Faces Veto Threat

“A bipartisan group of senators reached a deal on immigration Wednesday as President Trump attempted to preemptively undercut the proposal by delivering an ultimatum: Pass my plan or risk a veto,” the Washington Post reports.

The deal would “grant legal status to 1.8 million immigrants, and would authorize $25 billion for southern border security construction projects over the next decade — not immediately, as Trump wants. The bill also would curb family-based immigration programs, but not to the extent Trump is seeking and does not end a diversity visa lottery program that he wants eliminated.”

Politico reports “prospects were dim amid strong opposition from President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans as well as tepid buy-in from Democrats.”

Republicans Aren’t Budging on Immigration

James Hohmann: “Anti-immigration hard-liners are staking out a firm position because most of them are not actually concerned about the plight of the dreamers. They have never thought these young people, whose undocumented parents brought them to the United States as children, should be here anyway. They agitated for Trump to end the program.”

“This means they’ll be fine if no bill passes, and they know that gives them way more leverage to demand wholesale changes to the entire legal immigration system.”

As Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) told Fox & Friends: “The president’s framework bill is not an opening bid for negotiations. It’s a best and final offer.”

Immigration Prospects Look Dim

President Trump “is refusing to budge from his immigration framework, and he and his allies on Capitol Hill are laying the groundwork to heap the blame on Democrats if the Senate fails to reach a deal this week,” Politico reports.

“In Trump’s view, according to administration officials and GOP senators, he’s already compromised beyond where he and his staff felt comfortable by offering 1.8 million young undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship. And if Democrats want to step up this week and sink the president’s proposal, that will be on them.”

Playbook: “At this point, it does not look like the Senate is going to approve any immigration bill. If it doesn’t the focus will turn to the House. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) told his whips last night that they will canvas support for Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s (R-VA) immigration bill — legislation that doesn’t stand a chance of passing the Senate. But the House will clear that, and Democrats will try to force Speaker Paul Ryan to put centrist legislation on the floor. If anything were to happen, the best bet at this point would be a one-for-one trade: DACA protections for beefed up border security. It’s completely feasible, though, that nothing happens at all, or until the summer after further court action.”

The Curious Case of Melanija Knavs

As an immigration debate starts in the U.S. Senate, Roll Call notes that Slovenian-born Melania Trump’s own immigration history “has never been fully explained by the Trump camp.”

President Trump and his aides have “never thoroughly addressed the curious case of then-Melanija Knavs, who at 26 moved to New York City in the mid-1990s to pursue a professional modeling career. It would be two years before she met and began dating businessman Donald Trump. And still unresolved is whether she and her modeling agency properly handled her immigration status during that window.”

Senate Kicks Off Immigration Debate

Politico: “Senators on Monday kicked off an open-ended immigration debate that promises to test their rusty skills at bipartisan legislating, with no guarantee of success. The Senate voted 97-1 to proceed to a legislative shell bill that’s designed to serve as a vehicle for votes on competing immigration proposals, with Ted Cruz (R-TX) the sole ‘no’ vote.”

“All eyes are now on which — if any — idea can clear a 60-vote hurdle that requires both parties to look across the aisle. But as debate began, Republicans and Democrats alike acknowledged that it’s anyone’s guess as to whether such an immigration plan exists. President Donald Trump’s immigration framework is on track for a Senate floor vote and got endorsed Monday by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), but it’s unlikely to win 60 votes without significant changes.”

For members: A Real Debate Is About to Break Out in the Senate