Immigration hard-liners warn of ‘consequences’ for Ryan
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.