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But that proposal, along with the rest of the bill, collapsed amid a bipartisan Senate filibuster.

Mr. Nowrasteh at the Cato Institute said those decisions shouldn’t be left up to bureaucrats anyway.

“The government can’t pick winners and losers when it comes to green-energy firms like Solyndra, so what makes you think it can pick winners and losers when it comes to immigration?” he asked rhetorically.