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U.S. House Republicans work to craft Dreamer immigration deal
13 June 2018, 07:16 | Erica Roy
House Republicans grapple with immigration debate, don't reach deal in 2-hour huddle
The meeting did, however, buy Republican leaders more time to come up with answers.
Leaders of opposing HouseGOP factions are meeting with Speaker Paul Ryan as Republican leaders try to prevent passage of legislation that would protect young immigrants from deportation and provide a path toward citizenship.
But House conservatives, anxious that a vote on a pathway to citizenship could frustrate their base opposed to "amnesty" ahead of the midterms have pushed for a vote on Rep. McCaul's legislation with Rep.
It was uncertain if the proposal represented a breakthrough in the long-running GOP divide between moderates and conservatives on immigration, or would devolve into the latest failed attempt to bridge that gap. The trick will be to find a path that can appease vulnerable members and base-pleasing conservatives in a hard election year - and to save face for leadership while jockeying to replace outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan. He expressed uncertainty over what would happen after that, but said participants have characterized the proposal as a bridge to the legal immigration system - which suggests a pathway to remaining in the USA permanently.
The centrist Republican leaders of that effort said they were confident the petition, which now has 215 signatures, would attract the final three needed by Tuesday.
Members of the Freedom Caucus distanced themselves from the moderates' assertions, though their descriptions varied.
"There's no agreement right now", said Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., the GOP Whip, another vying to move-up the leadership ladder. And in a tweet, the Caucus said it has "not made an offer on immigration" but said talks continued. Conservatives have derided anything they label a "special path" to citizenship that would only be available to a specific population.
"We will know this week whether we have an agreement or not", Denham said. But details remained unclear and nothing has been finalized, the lawmaker said in an interview with The Associated Press. He and Curbelo need two more GOP signatures on a petition that could force those votes, assuming all Democrats sign. But he added, "We're still not in a situation where there's agreement".
As it stands now, several moderate Republicans still considering the discharge petition have held off on signing it under the guise that leadership will be able to broker compromise immigration legislation between conservatives and moderates in the conference. Luz Rivas won a runoff for the state Assembly seat from which fellow Democrat Raul Bocanegra resigned at the end of a year ago, and Republican Rita Topalian and Democrat Vanessa Delgado advanced to an August 7 runoff for Democrat Tony Mendoza's old state Senate seat. They also say it would antagonize conservative voters, jeopardizing GOP turnout in November elections where control of the House is at stake.
But new questions emerged over how far the package should go to clamp down on immigration enforcement in the US, beyond the $25 billion both sides have largely agreed to for President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico. There are roughly 700,000 now covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but Trump has proposed legal status for up to 1.8 million Dreamers. But by some estimates, 1 million or more other people qualify for that program but haven't applied.
Denham's partner in the effort, Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo, said he expects House leadership to draft text of the emerging compromise in the next few days.
"This effort to get our members to come to a common ground is the best chance at law", Ryan said. Ryan told Republicans that any deal should respect Trump's demands for a border wall, protections for young undocumented immigrants and make changes to diversity visas and family sponsorship visas. Voters in the intersection of Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties overwhelming (by an 18-point margin) recalled a Democratic state senator who had voted for a gas tax increase, and they installed a Republican in his place.
Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., said conservatives have discussed providing a pathway to citizenship to Dreamers in exchange for funding for the proposed border wall, ending the visa lottery and limiting the relatives immigrants can bring into the country.
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