On September 18, 2014, the Senate voted on a Republican-led measure to prohibit President Barack Obama from unilaterally granting deportation relief to any undocumented immigrant.
Amendment SA 3859 was introduced in response to an announcement made by the White House that the President intends to take executive action by the end of this year, to protect millions who are unlawfully present in the United States from deportation. The opponents say that such unilateral action on the part of the President would amount to a grant of “executive amnesty.” The measure failed on a 50-50 tie vote.
Driven in large part by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and Mike Lee (R-UT), the procedural vote needed 51 votes to pass and was taken on the last day before the Senate broke for recess until after the election. Notably, the vote also received support from several Democratic senators, including Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Mark Pryor (D-AK), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) – who are up for re-election in November – as well as from Joe Manchin (D-WV).
Had the measure passed, it would have allowed Sen. Sessions, the top Republican on the Budget Committee, and Sen. Cruz to offer legislation to defund the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program and block it from being expanded.
On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced the implementation of DACA, to allow certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines to apply and receive deferred action status for a period of two years, subject to renewal. Deferred action is a form of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action (commonly known as deportation) against an individual for a certain period of time. Although DACA does not provide lawful status, the holders of this status become a lower priority for deportation and are eligible to receive work authorization during the time in which they hold such status.