Im­mi­gra­tion hard-lin­ers warn of ‘con­se­quences’ for Ryan

USA TODAY US Edition - - NEWS - Led­yard King, Alan Gomez and El­iza Collins Con­tribut­ing: Deirdre Sh­es­green

Im­mi­gra­tion is “the defin­ing mo­ment for this speaker.”

Rep. Mark Mead­ows, R-N.C.

WASH­ING­TON – House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., found him­self in a tight po­lit­i­cal spot Wed­nes­day as Repub­li­can lead­ers an­nounced plans to push an im­mi­gra­tion bill that ap­peals to the most con­ser­va­tive wing of his party but will alien­ate mod­er­ates.

Ryan and other Repub­li­can lead­ers said Wed­nes­day that they planned to move ahead with leg­is­la­tion that would slash le­gal im­mi­gra­tion and give only tem­po­rary le­gal pro­tec­tions for the DREAM­ers, un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants brought to the U.S. as chil­dren, among other pro­vi­sions. Pres­i­dent Trump en­dorsed that bill Wed­nes­day — but he also en­dorsed a ri­val Se­nate pro­posal that doesn’t go as far.

Im­mi­gra­tion is “the defin­ing mo­ment for this speaker,” House Free­dom Cau­cus Chair Mark Mead­ows, R-N.C., said Wed­nes­day. “If he gets it wrong, it will have con­se­quences for him, but it will also have con­se­quences for the rest of the Repub­li­can Party.”

That warn­ing shot from Mead­ows — who helped push Ryan’s pre­de­ces­sor, John Boehner, into re­tire­ment — high­lights how ex­plo­sive the loom­ing House de­bate will be for Repub­li­cans. The Se­nate is de­bat­ing im­mi­gra­tion, and it’s un­likely to pass leg­is­la­tion that would dra­mat­i­cally re­strict le­gal im­mi­gra­tion or ini­ti­ate a wave of de­por­ta­tions.

Mead­ows and other con­ser­va­tives made it clear they will ac­cept noth­ing short of the hard-line House im­mi­gra­tion bill in­tro­duced by Rep. Bob Good­latte, R-Va., chair­man of the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, and Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chair­man of the House Home­land Se­cu­rity Com­mit­tee.

That pro­posal would cut le­gal im­mi­gra­tion by at least 25% and crack down on “sanc­tu­ary cities” that do not fully co­op­er­ate with fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment. It would re­quire em­ploy­ers to use the E-Ver­ify sys­tem to check the im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus of job ap­pli­cants; pro­vide fund­ing to hire 10,000 fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion agents; and cut at least 200,000 green cards a year given to for­eign­ers.

In ex­change for those new re­stric­tions, it would grant tem­po­rary le­gal sta­tus to fewer than 800,000 DREAM­ers — re­quir­ing them to re­new their pro­tec­tions ev­ery three years — but no op­por­tu­nity to earn cit­i­zen­ship.

“If we get this bill passed through the House and it ul­ti­mately gets to the pres­i­dent’s desk, he would sign that bill,” House Ma­jor­ity Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said Wed­nes­day. “We are fi­nally at least work­ing on a way to come to­gether to ad­dress this prob­lem.”

In a state­ment, Trump gave a thumbs-up to the Good­latte-McCaul bill Wed­nes­day. It in­cludes many en­force­ment mea­sures be­yond the pri­or­i­ties the pres­i­dent out­lined.

The bill is a non-starter in the Se­nate, and it’s not even clear whether it could pass the House. Democrats fiercely op­pose it — as do some Repub­li­can mod­er­ates.

Trump also en­dorsed a less-re­stric­tive im­mi­gra­tion bill Wed­nes­day, spon­sored by Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Chuck Grass­ley, R-Iowa, that would com­mit bil­lions of dol­lars to bor­der se­cu­rity, limit fam­ily-based mi­gra­tion and pro­vide a path to cit­i­zen­ship to about 1.8 mil­lion DREAM­ers.

Grass­ley’s bill would au­tho­rize

$25 bil­lion to­ward com­ple­tion of a 10year bor­der se­cu­rity plan, in­clud­ing a wall be­tween the USA and Mex­ico. It would pro­vide for ad­di­tional per­son­nel for bor­der con­trol; limit fam­ily­based im­mi­gra­tion to the nu­clear fam­ily; and phase out the visa lot­tery sys­tem. The Grass­ley bill would pro­vide a

12-year path to cit­i­zen­ship for the DREAM­ers who have been al­lowed to stay in the USA un­der the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals pro­gram.

Mead­ows and others said the Grass­ley mea­sure isn’t tough enough.

Speaker Paul Ryan is mov­ing ahead on an im­mi­gra­tion bill.

JACQUELYN MARTIN/AP

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