House Could Vote on Four Immigration Bills as Soon as June 25th

In order to pass legislation to secure the border and protect Dreamers before the November midterm elections, House Speaker Paul Ryan has scheduled a meeting to be held on June 7th with Republican representatives in the House. “What we're trying to do is find where the consensus sweet spot is,” Ryan said last week. “Immigration is an issue that has a lot of passionate positions.”

Speaker Ryan’s efforts to bring Republicans together on immigration come in the face of a petition that is just five signatures shy of the 218 it needs to discharge a committee from the consideration of Rep. Jeff Denham’s (R-CA) H.Res.774, which will ultimately force a vote on four different immigration bills in the House.

A few Republicans who are willing to endorse the petition in order force a vote on much needed and long awaited immigration reform legislation to secure the border and provide a path to legal status for Dreamers, are waiting to see if Republicans can reach a consensus in the June 7th meeting before they make their move. “I believe the drop-dead date is June 7,” said Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL), a senior deputy whip, who has yet to sign the petition but is open to doing so. “We’re giving them 10 days to see what happens.”

Republican leadership in the house is hoping to gather enough support among Republicans to hold a successful vote on an amended version of Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s (R-VA) Securing America’s Future Act. However, as it stands today, Goodlatte’s bill is quite controversial, and as such, does not have a great chance ultimately becoming law. While the bill does include adequate border security measures, it also includes economically detrimental cuts to future legal immigration levels and only provides temporary legal status to Dreamers that can be renewed every three years, rather than a conditional path for them to earn permanent legal status.

Even if Republicans are able to pass a bill without the support of any Democrats in the House, it will still require the support of at least nine Democrats in the Senate to avoid a filibuster and will ultimately need to be signed by the president to become law. In order to make it past those two hurdles, for any immigration legislation being considered to have a real chance of passing, it will need to include a path for Dreamers to earn permanent legal status and adequate funding to secure the border and build the president’s promised wall.  “Unless it improves a wall, and I mean a wall, a real wall, and unless it improves very strong border security, there’ll be no approvals from me, because I have to either approve it or not,” President Trump said last week in an interview with Fox News.

If the June 7th meeting fails to produce a consensus among Republican Representatives on immigration legislation, then the discharge petition is expected to receive 218 signatures, which could ultimately force a vote on four bills as soon as June 25th.

The bills that would be put to a vote will be updated and adjusted versions of Representative Bob Goodlatte’s (R-VA) bill Securing America’s Future Act, Representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard’s (D-CA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s (R-FL) DREAM Act, a proposal from House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) that is expected to be similar to the White House’s framework on immigration reform and border security, and Representative Will Hurd’s (R-TX) Uniting and Securing America (USA) Act.

While most Americans support providing Dreamers with a conditional path to earn legal status, many also see DACA and Dreamers as a symptom of an unsecured border. Border security, and the ability to know who and what are entering our country, is a matter of national security. In order to avoid a potential influx of illegal immigration following any legislation that protects Dreamers, like that which occurred when Obama unilaterally created DACA, provisions to proactively improve Border security must be included in any legislation to protect Dreamers.

Of the immigration bills being considered, the only one that includes these two necessary provisions without including controversial measures that will prevent support from the needed number of lawmakers to actually pass it is Will Hurd’s USA Act. The bill would cancel the removal of unauthorized immigrants who arrived in the United States as minors before 2014 and provide them with a conditional path to earn legal status. It would also direct DHS to provide a border security strategy to Congress and allocate significant amounts of funding towards efficiently securing the border. Additionally, the USA Act provides for the hiring of an additional 55 immigration judges, which would improve the speed of immigration court proceedings and help cut down on catch and release.

 

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