- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 15, 2018

Nearly 100 immigration plans were left to rot in the hopper when the Senate concluded a long-awaited immigration debate Thursday.

What was heralded as a freewheeling debate and a weeklong floor fight was whittled down to about two hours of votes to kill a total of four measures.

The senators wrapped up the effort with almost no debate.

“I didn’t count it exactly, but I think we only had 13 minutes of debate. That’s not open debate, as far as I’m concerned,” said Sen. John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican who introduced a half-dozen of the immigration amendments that never saw the light of day.

“We were kind of limited. There was no debate,” he said. “You don’t know that something couldn’t have gotten 60 votes if we had had an open debate.”

The legislation that didn’t make it to the Senate floor ran the gamut of immigration issues. Proposals dealt with unaccompanied children crossing the border, doling out visas for temporary or high-skilled workers, and other matters.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, agreed to limit the votes to four bills.

They settled on the four bills after Mr. Schumer delayed action for three days while Democrats scrambled for legislative alternatives to President Trump’s four-pronged framework: providing a road to citizenship for illegal immigrants who were brought into the country as children, improving border security, ending the visa lottery system and limiting chain migration.

To varying degrees, three of the bills tackled the crisis facing illegal immigrant Dreamers that spurred Congress to take action on immigration. The fourth bill would have cracked down on sanctuary cities.

Mr. Kennedy wanted votes on his bills that included outlawing illegal immigrant remittances to their home countries, putting a citizenship question on the U.S. census and making visa overstays the criminal equivalent of border jumping.

Some of the bills have been floated in the past.

Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, introduced a measure that would make English the official U.S. language. He has introduced the same bill repeatedly since at least 2006. It has been adopted in bipartisan votes in the Senate but never made it into law.

This time, it didn’t get a shot.

The bills denied a chance to win the 60 votes needed to survive came from both sides of the aisle.

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the Senate’s No. 3 Democratic leader, offered legislation that would have prohibited the shackling of pregnant women in immigration detention.

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, Maryland Democrat, offered a bill that would have granted legal status to those who have been living in the U.S. under temporary protective status, which Mr. Trump began phasing out in January.

More than 400,000 people are shielded by temporary protected status, mostly from El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, introduced a bill that would have increased the number of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents.

If legislation offered by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Illinois Democrat, got a vote, U.S. military veterans who were illegal immigrants and deported might have had the right to return to the country.

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono offered nine bills, including two that would have provided more attorneys for unaccompanied alien children at the border.

The Hawaii Democrat also had a bill that would have provided Pell grants for college for Dreamers, who came illegally to the U.S. as minors. Another of her bills would have prohibited building a border wall with federal lands.

Several of the bills dealt with the border wall proposed by Mr. Trump.

Sen. Martin Heinrich, New Mexico Democrat, proposed barring wall construction on national wildlife refuges.

A bill by Sen. Bill Cassidy, Louisiana Republican, would have used proceeds gained from prosecuting drug kingpins to pay for construction of a border wall.


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