House Re­pub­li­cans to of­fer 2 sep­a­rate bills on im­mi­gra­tion

The Myanmar Times - - World -

WASH­ING­TON (AP) — House Re­pub­li­cans are con­sid­er­ing next steps on two im­mi­gra­tion bills af­ter GOP lead­ers per­suaded mod­er­ate Re­pub­li­cans to drop their rene­gade ef­fort to force votes on leg­is­la­tion that would have pro­tected young “Dreamer” im­mi­grants with a path to cit­i­zen­ship.

In­stead, lead­ers reached a deal with mod­er­ates and con­ser­va­tives that will al­low two votes on other bills, start­ing as soon as next week.

Mod­er­ates were promised a vote on a com­pro­mise im­mi­gra­tion plan, which re­mains a work in progress but will likely in­clude a cit­i­zen­ship path­way for the young im­mi­grants who have been liv­ing in the coun­try il­le­gally since they were chil­dren. Con­ser­va­tives were guar­an­teed a vote on their fa­vored ap­proach, which pro­vides a path to le­gal sta­tus but not cit­i­zen­ship.

With a truce be­tween the GOP’s fac­tions, House Re­pub­li­cans were set to meet be­hind closed doors Wed­nes­day to as­sess the process for­ward on an is­sue that has di­vided the party for years — and that lead­ers wor­ried would dam­age the GOP ahead of the elec­tion sea­son.

A spokes­woman for Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Ash­Lee Strong, an­nounced the de­ci­sion late Tues­day af­ter a bar­gain­ing ses­sion with the law­mak­ers from the GOP’s con­ser­va­tive and mod­er­ate fac­tions ended with­out agree­ment on a sin­gle pack­age all sides could sup­port.

Mod­er­ates had been col­lect­ing sig­na­tures on a pe­ti­tion drive to would force a vote. Strong said the de­ci­sion to con­sider two bills would avert the pe­ti­tion drive “and re­solve the bor­der se­cu­rity and im­mi­gra­tion is­sues.”

Lead­ers feared if the mod­er­ates had been able to col­lect the 218 votes needed, mostly from Democrats, it would em­bar­rass Re­pub­li­cans by pass­ing a bill that con­ser­va­tives de­cried as amnesty for the young im­mi­grants.

Rep. Car­los Curbelo, R-Fla., a leader of the mod­er­ates’ pe­ti­tion drive, cred­ited his group for forc­ing the is­sue to the fore.

“Our goal has al­ways been to force the House to de­bate and con­sider mean­ing­ful im­mi­gra­tion re­form, and to­day we’re one step closer,” Curbelo said.

Con­ser­va­tives were also pleased, cer­tain that nei­ther bill would nec­es­sar­ily win enough votes to pass, but con­fi­dent the out­come would show the po­lit­i­cal strength of their pre­ferred ap­proach, a bill from Rep. Bob Good­latte, R-Va.

Rep. Mark Mead­ows, R-N.C., a leader of the con­ser­va­tive Free­dom Cau­cus, said even if the bill fails, vot­ing would show “we can just amend the Good­latte bill” and try again.

Strong said votes on the two bills would hap­pen next week. But Mead­ows said a vote on the com­pro­mise plan may slip to the end of the month as talks con­tinue craft­ing the leg­is­la­tion.

For weeks, the party’s two wings have hunted for ways to pro­vide a com­pro­mise that would pro­vide the cit­i­zen­ship path­way and also bol­ster bor­der se­cu­rity, but have failed to find mid­dle ground.

The House ended Tues­day’s ses­sion as mod­er­ates fell short of their stated goal of hav­ing 218 sig­na­tures — a ma­jor­ity of the cham­ber — on a pe­ti­tion that would force votes on other im­mi­gra­tion bills that GOP lead­ers op­pose. They had promised to do that by Tues­day in order to trig­ger those votes later this month.

In­stead, the cen­trists ac­cu­mu­lated the names of all 193 Democrats but just 23 Re­pub­li­cans — two short of the num­ber re­quired.

GOP lead­ers have strongly op­posed the rarely used pe­ti­tion tac­tic, assert­ing those votes would prob­a­bly pro­duce a lib­eral-lean­ing bill backed by Democrats and just a smat­ter­ing of Re­pub­li­cans. They’ve ac­tively lob­bied other mod­er­ates to not sign the pe­ti­tion, and in talks bar­gain­ers have sought leg­is­la­tion both sides could back or al­ter­na­tively a way for each fac­tion to get a vote on leg­is­la­tion they could sup­port.

The al­ter­na­tive mea­sure is still un­der dis­cus­sion. But a Repub­li­can fa­mil­iar with the dis­cus­sions said it would likely be based on a pro­posal by mod­er­ates that would grant the Dream­ers a chance for cit­i­zen­ship but also pro­vide the $25 bil­lion Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump wants for his bor­der wall with Mexico. It would also hew close Trump’s ideas for end­ing the di­ver­sity visa and im­pose curbs on le­gal im­mi­gra­tion for some im­mi­grant fam­ily mem­bers, changes that con­ser­va­tives want. That Repub­li­can spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity to de­scribe pri­vate talks.

House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., crit­i­cized the GOP ap­proach.

“If Re­pub­li­cans plan to use Dream­ers as a way to ad­vance @re­alDon­aldTrump’s xeno­pho­bic, anti-im­mi­grant agenda, they will get a fight from House Democrats,” Pelosi said in a tweet.

Any com­pro­mise bill would prob­a­bly also in­clude pro­vi­sions chang­ing how im­mi­grant chil­dren are sep­a­rated from their fam­i­lies at the bor­der, aides said.

Trump’s re­cent clam­p­down on peo­ple en­ter­ing the U.S. il­le­gally has re­sulted in hun­dreds of chil­dren be­ing sep­a­rated from their fam­i­lies and a pub­lic re­la­tions black eye for the ad­min­is­tra­tion. No law re­quires those chil­dren to be taken from their par­ents. A 2-decade-old court set­tle­ment re­quires those who are sep­a­rated to be re­leased quickly to rel­a­tives or qual­i­fied pro­grams. But the White House has sought to change that and Re­pub­li­cans are seek­ing lan­guage to make it eas­ier to keep the fam­i­lies to­gether longer, said sev­eral Re­pub­li­cans. Ad­vo­cates for im­mi­grants have said the Good­latte bill would al­low mi­nors to be de­tained longer than is now cur­rently al­lowed.

As talks be­tween the House GOP’s fac­tions con­tin­ued, lead­ers worked to de­rail the mod­er­ates’ pe­ti­tion. As part of the ef­fort, party lead­ers promised votes to later this year on a bill deal­ing with mi­grant agri­cul­tural work­ers and re­quire­ments that em­ploy­ers use a gov­ern­ment on­line sys­tem to ver­ify work­ers’ cit­i­zen­ship, ac­cord­ing to three aides fa­mil­iar with the ne­go­ti­a­tions. The Re­pub­li­cans spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity to de­scribe pri­vate talks.

Congress has been forced to deal with the im­mi­gra­tion af­ter Trump last year ter­mi­nated the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals pro­gram, or DACA.

Hun­dreds of thou­sands of young im­mi­grants have ben­e­fited from DACA or could qual­ify for it, but risked of de­por­ta­tion as the pro­gram ended, though fed­eral court or­ders have kept the pro­gram func­tion­ing for now.

Se­nate ef­forts to pass im­mi­gra­tion leg­is­la­tion failed ear­lier this year.

Photo: AP

In this June 7, 2018, photo, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., takes ques­tions from re­porters fol­low­ing a closed-door GOP meet­ing on im­mi­gra­tion with­out reach­ing an agree­ment be­tween con­ser­va­tives and mod­er­ates, on Capi­tol Hill in Wash­ing­ton. Di­vided House Re­pub­li­cans left a bar­gain­ing ses­sion Tues­day, June 12, say­ing they’d not reached an im­mi­gra­tion com­pro­mise. It re­mained un­clear whether restive mod­er­ates would fol­low through on their threat to force votes soon on the trou­ble­some is­sue, and ques­tions even arose about whether they still had enough sup­port to do that.

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