House Democrats Unveil Immigration Plan in Hopes of Pressuring Republicans

David Nakamura, Washington Post, October 2, 2013

House Democrats released their own comprehensive immigration proposal Wednesday, hoping to put renewed pressure on the Republican majority to move forward on stalled border legislation.

But GOP aides quickly dismissed the proposal and said it was unlikely to get a vote in the chamber, reducing the bill to a symbolic attempt to keep immigration reform alive while Washington focuses on the government shutdown.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and several colleagues unveiled the proposal at a news conference on Capitol Hill, saying Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) should put immigration legislation up for a vote by the full House before the end of the year.

“The speaker said that he would like to bring something to the floor,” Pelosi said. “We would like to see characteristics like these in his bill.”

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Democrats fear that the Republican-controlled House is intent on killing momentum for immigration reform by dragging out the process. Pro-immigration advocates are planning a day of action Saturday in dozens of cities across the country, followed by an immigration rally and concert on the Mall on Tuesday. Organizers said the concert would take place on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol if the federal government remains closed next week.

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The Democrats’ plan amends a comprehensive bill approved by the Senate in June by striking a controversial border security measure that would add 700 hundred miles of fencing and 20,000 border control agents along the U.S.-Mexican border. That provision was added to the Senate bill to help win votes from conservative Republicans.

In its place, the Democratic lawmakers substituted a border proposal, passed unanimously by the House Homeland Security Committee, that would require the Department of Homeland Security to write a plan to ensure the apprehension of 90 percent of illegal border-crossers in high-traffic areas within two years and across the entire southern border within five years. The provision does not set a price or timeline, nor does it mandate a certain number of hires.

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