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.