Dreamers left in limbo as US Senate rejects Trump’s immigration bill

President Donald Trump was dealt with an especially galling defeat as more than a quarter of fellow Republicans abandoned him on an issue that helped propel him to the White House.

world Updated: Feb 16, 2018 22:36 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
AP, Washington
US immigration,Dreamers,Illegal immigration
Demonstrators calling for new protections for "Dreamers" -- undocumented children brought to the US by their immigrant parents, walk through a senate office building on Capitol Hill in Washington.(Reuters Photo)

The US senate shot down four proposed legislations on immigration on Thursday, dealing a blow to undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children and leaving them vulnerable to deportation.

Called “Dreamers”, these 700,000 immigrants are protected by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which is set to lapse on March 5 on President Donald Trump’s orders.

Also affected are the estimated 1.5 million H-1B visa-holders from India who are awaiting their Green Card — they were hoping to insinuate their case into their negotiations for ending a backlog that could keep them waiting for their permanent residency for decades.

Among the four bills voted down was Trump’s proposal, a deal that would offer a path to citizenship to citizenship to 1.8 million illegal immigrants but would dramatically curtail legal immigration by ending the decades-old diversity visa lottery and restricting the policy of family reunification, which Trump calls “chain migration”. It fell well short of the required 60 votes, losing 39-60 as many Republicans cutting party lines to deal it a crushing defeat.

Trump has blamed Democrats for the failure in negotiations, tweeting on Friday: “Cannot believe how BADLY DACA recipients have been treated by the Democrats...totally abandoned! Republicans are still working hard.”

Reuters reported that the Supreme Court could weigh in on the issue and consider the appeal of a lower court decision which blocks his order to end DACA. The court could act on Friday or Tuesday, with Monday being a holiday.

If the appeal is accepted, the court would likely not rule on it until June. If they refuse to hear it, the lower court ruling would stay in effect while litigation continues, Reuters reported.

Even if the Senate had managed to pass a legislation, there was no guarantee it would have passed the House of Representatives, where Republicans harbour deep reservations about offering Dreamers a path to citizenship, preferring instead to grant them temporary reprieve.

The House could take up the issue next week. A White House-backed legislation introduced earlier by Republicans could form the focus of negotiations there.

(With inputs from Agencies)

First Published: Feb 16, 2018 08:41 IST