The Senate passed a border amendment to its budget resolution late Thursday night that attempts to prevent future border surges like the one experienced last summer along the U.S.-Mexico border. The amendment, offered by Sen. John McCain (#360), passed by a 58-to-42 margin, but not before a bit of drama.
Sen. McCain's original amendment called for the expedited removal of unaccompanied minors from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Those three countries were the source of last summer's border surge. But it also included a provision that would allow for the creation of in-country processing of "refugees" in those three countries.
NumbersUSA pointed out to Senators that the Central American migrants are not fleeing government persecution, and so do not qualify as refugees, but are instead seeking the benefits of the President's rewriting of our immigration laws. We notified Senators on Wednesday that we opposed McCain's amendment for this reason and organized a Social Media campaign against it on Thursday night.
Upon learning of our opposition, as well as Sen. Jeff Sessions' opposition, Sen. McCain removed the in-country processing language, hoping for our support. We did change our position, urged a YES vote, and the amendment passed.
Not only did every Senate Republican support the amendment for expedited removal, but three Democrats and one Independent also voted YES -- Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Angus King of Maine, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Claire McCaskill of Missouri.
Since the amendment was part of a Budget Resolution, it is non-binding and doesn't force a change in the current policy that allows unaccompanied minors from those three countries to be treated differently than those from Mexico or Canada. If the provision, however, remains in the budget resolution that's eventually approved by both chambers of Congress, it allows appropriators later to set spending levels for the 2016 fiscal year that call for the expedited removal of illegal aliens from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. In other words, this was one of those first-step victories.
The McCain amendment was the only immigration-related amendment that came to the floor. For a list of other immigration amendments that didn't come to the floor, mainly because they were withdrawn by their sponsors, click here.
Updated: Fri, Apr 10th 2015 @ 5:10pm EDT