Originally published by The Washington Post
If a band of Republican centrists can pull it off, the House could vote this year on four dueling immigration bills over the objections of party leaders.
The mavericks would succeed if they collect 218 signatures — a majority of House members — on a petition, a seldom-used procedure. The proposal would allow votes on a liberal plan, a conservative one, a bipartisan compromise and any bill chosen by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
The moderates are shy so far of the signatures they need, and GOP leaders are trying to keep it that way. If the group approaches the numbers needed, leaders could negotiate over a different approach. Both sides acknowledge they are already talking.
The bills, which sponsors could change, are listed in the order they’d be considered. The measure passing with the most votes would prevail. In a tie, the last bill approved would win, a process favoring the bipartisan plan.
CONSERVATIVES’ SECURING AMERICA’S FUTURE ACT
Young immigrants brought to U.S. illegally as children, now temporarily shielded from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, could have protections renewed for three-year periods. There would not be a pathway to citizenship.
Overall legal immigration levels would be reduced. The visa lottery for people from countries with few U.S. immigrants would be eliminated. The relatives a legal immigrant could bring to the U.S. would be limited to spouses and minor children. It would be easier to deport immigrants who are gang members, sex offenders or convicted drunken drivers.
It would allow the construction of President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico and would beef up border patrol and security technology. It would require employers to use E-Verify systems to confirm workers’ citizenship. It cuts grants to sanctuary cities that don’t cooperate with federal immigration crackdowns.
Sponsors include Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas.
LIBERALS’ DREAM ACT
For DACA recipients and other young immigrants in the U.S. at least four years before the enactment of the bill, it creates a process to become permanent legal residents. To be eligible, they must meet minimum requirements for education and for work or military service. Felons are excluded. They must speak English.
It contains no language addressing building a border wall or strengthening border security.
Sponsors include Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.
BILL DESIGNATED BY RYAN
Ryan would be allowed to introduce any immigration bill he wishes. He has not said what it would be, but he has said he wants legislation that helps DACA recipients and strengthens border security and that will get Trump’s signature.
BIPARTISAN UNITING AND SECURING AMERICA ACT
This bill gives DACA recipients a chance to become legal permanent residents, but it does not create a special pathway to becoming citizens. To qualify, they must have been in the U.S. since at least 2013 and have entered the country before they turn 18. They must also meet education requirements and have no record of serious crimes.
The measure orders the Department of Homeland Security to install the best technology to secure the border with Mexico, but it does not explicitly authorize construction of a wall. It creates federal grants for law enforcement agencies along the borders, including improved communications. It also increases the number of immigration judges.
Sponsors are Reps. Will Hurd, R-Texas, and Pete Aguilar, D-Calif.