House GOP un­veils bill

Am­bi­tious pro­posal would over­haul sys­tem


“Our mem­bers felt very, very pas­sion­ate about hav­ing votes on poli­cies they care about, and that is what we are do­ing.” HOUSE SPEAKER PAUL RYAN

Wash­ing­ton — House Repub­li­cans un­veiled a “dis­cus­sion draft” of a sweep­ing im­mi­gra­tion bill that in­cludes a path to cit­i­zen­ship for young im­mi­grants, $25 bil­lion in bor­der se­cu­rity — in­clud­ing ad­vance funds for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s wall with Mex­ico — and cuts to fam­ily-based visas in fa­vor of those for im­mi­grants with skills.

It also responds to wide­spread con­cern over the sharp rise of fam­i­lies be­ing sep­a­rated at the bor­der by propos­ing to keep chil­dren in de­ten­tion with their par­ents, un­do­ing rules that limit the time mi­nors can be held in cus­tody.

Pre­sented to law­mak­ers Thursday, the mea­sure sticks to Trump’s im­mi­gra­tion pri­or­i­ties while try­ing to join the party’s war­ring con­ser­va­tive and mod­er­ate fac­tions on an is­sue that has di­vided the GOP for years. Pas­sage is far from cer­tain.

Speaker Paul Ryan wants to hold a vote as soon as next week to put the is­sue to rest be­fore the midterm elec­tion. He called it a “very good com­pro­mise.”

“Our mem­bers felt very, very pas­sion­ate about hav­ing votes on poli­cies they care about, and that is what we are do­ing,” he said ear­lier Thursday. “So we’re bring­ing leg­is­la­tion that’s been care­fully crafted and ne­go­ti­ated to the floor. We won’t guar­an­tee pas­sage.”

The 293-page bill rep­re­sents the kind of am­bi­tious over­haul of the im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem Repub­li­cans have long con­sid­ered but have been un­able to turn into law. It shifts away from the U.S.’ long­time pref­er­ence for fam­ily im­mi­gra­tion to a new sys­tem that pri­or­i­tizes en­try based on mer­its and skills. It beefs up bor­der se­cu­rity, clamps down on il­le­gal en­tries and re­in­forces other im­mi­gra­tion laws.

But the main new el­e­ment is a path to cit­i­zen­ship for as many as 1.8 mil­lion young peo­ple who have been liv­ing in the U.S. il­le­gally since child­hood. Many con­ser­va­tives ob­ject to pro­vid­ing these im­mi­grants with le­gal sta­tus, call­ing it amnesty for those who broke the rules to get here. They are com­monly re­ferred to as “Dream­ers,” based on never-passed pro­pos­als in Congress called the DREAM Act that would have pro­vided sim­i­lar pro­tec­tions for young im­mi­grants.

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