Posted on June 7, 2018

House GOP in Eleventh-Hour Attempt for Immigration Accord

Alan Fram and Lisa Mascaro, Associated Press, June 7 2018

Fractured House Republicans huddled privately Thursday as leaders tried pushing them toward consensus on immigration, racing the clock and trying to defuse a civil war within the party that threatens their effort to keep control of the chamber in November’s elections.

{snip} If leaders fail to find a solution, that would give momentum to moderates seeking to stage election-year votes in just three weeks on the issue, a showdown that leaders want to head off.

Both conservative and moderate lawmakers, the two factions at odds over the issue, said they didn’t know what to expect as they entered the session.


GOP lawmakers emerged from the office of Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on Wednesday saying he would present the rank and file with broad ideas for resolving a dispute that has split Republicans for years, damaging the party with Hispanic and moderate voters.


[Rep. Carlos] Curbelo [R-Fla.], Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., and other moderates need just two more GOP signatures on a petition to require immigration votes, assuming all Democrats sign on. If Thursday’s meeting doesn’t produce an accord, the moderates could reach that threshold quickly.

The major hang-up in GOP talks has been how, as the moderates have demanded, to offer a chance for citizenship to young “Dreamer” immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Conservatives have opposed creating a special pathway for them to become citizens, calling it amnesty.


Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., said a large group of conservatives he leads has discussed providing a pathway to citizenship to Dreamers in exchange for giving President Donald Trump nearly all the $25 billion he wants to build his proposed wall with Mexico. In addition, the conservatives want to end a lottery that grants visas to countries with few immigrants to the U.S. and curb the relatives who can be brought over by immigrants, Walker said.


Walker said the more Dreamers who’d be given an opportunity for citizenship, the tighter curbs on family-based migration would be. Roughly 700,000 people are protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, an Obama-era policy that Trump has halted. But by some estimates, 1 million or more other people qualify for that program but haven’t applied.

The moderates’ petition would force House votes on four immigration bills, ranging from a liberal one helping Dreamers win citizenship to a conservative version curbing legal immigration.


Because of those divisions, averting the issue completely unless an agreement is reached has been the GOP leadership’s preference all year, until their hand was forced by moderates wielding the rarely used petition process.